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“Orthodox Jews in S. Florida join debate on evolution vs. intelligent design”

Orthodox Jews in S. Florida join debate on evolution vs. intelligent design
By James D. Davis
Religion Editor
December 12, 2005

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-cdesigndec12,0,3441548.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

Evangelical Christians aren’t the only ones making evolution and intelligent design a cause célèbre: Leading Orthodox Jews have the topic in their sights as well — some of them gathering for a three-day conference this week in South Florida.

At least two area Jewish groups have booked heavy hitters to discuss the issues this month. And, they say, Jews have a stake in the outcome.

Intelligent design holds that some structures of life — such as blood clotting or the flagella of some microbes — are so complex, they could not have developed without a purposeful designer.

“This is one of the cutting-edge issues of the culture wars,” said religion professor Nathan Katz of Florida International University, a co-organizer of the conference. “The basic question is: Is God there?”

Cutting-edge and far-reaching, if you count courts and schools. Broward’s teachers are considering two biology textbooks that give at least a nod to intelligent design. And a judge in Georgia ordered comments on the concept removed from books there.

Starting Tuesday at FIU’s North Miami campus, the International Conference on Torah & Science will muster 30 experts from the United States, Israel, Canada and South Africa. Their specialties are as varied as Kabbalah and solar research. They’ll cover topics as diverse as food production and religious law.

But the main focus will come Wednesday with a keynote address by William A. Dembski, a champion of intelligent design and the first evangelical Christian ever to address the conference. Dembski, of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will share the dais with three Jewish experts who will look at various facets of evolution.

Ask Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, one of the conference organizers, about the topic, and he sounds much like a conservative Christian.

“The moral and ethical morass today — hate among nations, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, family breakdown — comes from people not believing there is a higher authority that owns and directs the world,” said Lipskar, of The Shul of Bal Harbour. “But when we look to purpose and meaning, a superior authority, things fall into place, socially and spiritually.”

Lipskar met head-on the suggestions by some that intelligent design is meant as a “back door” to putting religion in schools. “It’s not a back door, it’s a front door!” he said. “But the objective is not to make people religious. It’s to make them understand that the world was put into place by an intelligent being. We are not random chemical reactions.”

However, there’s room for shades of opinion at the conference. Biologist Eduardo Zeiger of UCLA believes that Jews don’t need to promote intelligent design. And although cancer researcher Lee Spetner of Israel wrote an anti-evolution book titled Not by Chance, he has said intelligent design shouldn’t be taught in public schools.

Orthodox Jewish involvement in the issue seems to be a trend whose time has come. On Dec. 1 in Hollywood, Aish HaTorah hosted Israeli-American scientist Gerald Schroeder, who compared intelligent design with Darwinism.

“This is a fundamental American issue for anyone who takes God and the Bible seriously,” said Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale, director of Aish South Florida. “And Jews have a significant, meaningful perspective.”

The idea of intelligent design overlaps that of the better-known creationism, which insists that God directly created life. Believers in intelligent design have more latitude; some believe in theistic evolution, saying God directed the development of life.

“Opponents say it’s creationism in nice clothes, but it’s not married to the Bible in any way,” said Katz, founder of FIU’s Center for the Study of Spirituality. “It’s just as compatible with Hinduism.”

Some experts are trying to work out middle positions that respect both science and scripture. Gerald Schroeder, the Aish speaker, reads Genesis symbolically, saying that human bodies evolved from prehuman hominids, but the human soul was created instantaneously.

“Intelligence is manifested in the world; it didn’t develop randomly,” he said in a recent interview. “But we don’t know how the metaphysical interacts with the physical — how the Creator works in creation.”

In talking up intelligent design, though, Orthodox Jews are on the other side of the aisle from their mainline brethren.

The American Jewish Committee filed a friend-of-court brief in a case involving Cobb County, Ga., which put stickers on science textbooks warning students that evolution is “a theory, not a fact.” A federal judge this year had the stickers removed, but Cobb has appealed.

“I think intelligent design is a theory of convenience, an attempt to open a second front in public schools,” said William Gralnick, director of AJC’s regional office in Boca Raton. “But I don’t think it has legs. It won’t catch on.”

Rabbi Anthony Fratello of Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach agrees. “Everybody knows that this debate is about injecting religion into the study of science,” he said. “And I don’t believe they belong together. Science is about the hows of things. Philosophy and religion are about the whys.

“I believe firmly in God, and I believe that evolution is a fact. And I don’t find anything contradictory in that.”

However, Leon Weissberg, the top educator for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, favors a “free marketplace of ideas” in the classroom.

“If you include only one side, you clearly preclude the other,” said Weissberg, executive director for the Jewish Education Commission, who emphasized that he was speaking only for himself. “In a free marketplace, the ideas will balance out.”

Rather than fight it out in courts, Gerald Schroeder, the Aish speaker, said science classes should emphasize basic points of agreement — such as that the world was created, and that the Big Bang condensed energy into matter.

“Who cares about how a fish became a frog?” he said. “What about the way light beams became us? If you teach the wonder, everyone will see something beyond the physical world.”

James D. Davis can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4730.

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32 Responses to “Orthodox Jews in S. Florida join debate on evolution vs. intelligent design”

  1. We’ll be thinking about you, Prof. Dembski.
    Have a great conference.

  2. Speaking of Religion/ID/Evolution…Does the following blog entry with links to a parody of “The Passion of the Christ”, (http://pharyngula.org/index/we.....e_i_guess/), not say to theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller, “You’re a useful idiot”? Or is it all in good fun?

  3. Good Luck. Our prayers are with you.

  4. Bling Bling,

    I don’t mean to generate strife, but I’m just a little confused. Aren’t you opposed to Intelligent Design? http://brainwashedgod.blogspot.....tupid.html

  5. Are you kidding? I just love to generate strife. But seriously, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I hope W.D. does well because I think that it is important to air the whole thing. Just because some scientists like to parade around their “experiments” as proof that evolution is real and some ID proponents like to come in swinging with math and stuff, I just like a good argument, and lets face it, If I published an ultra-christian site, who’d comment?

  6. “Who cares about how a fish became a frog?” he said. “What about the way light beams became us? If you teach the wonder, everyone will see something beyond the physical world.”

    And that, my friends, is the ultimate truth of the matter.

  7. Maybe Bling Bling likes alliteration.

    He’s obviously soliciting a “Bling Bling is no longer with this blog” message.

  8. The article states:
    “However, Leon Weissberg, the top educator for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, favors a ‘free marketplace of ideas’ in the classroom. ‘If you include only one side, you clearly preclude the other,’ said Weissberg, executive director for the Jewish Education Commission, who emphasized that he was speaking only for himself. ‘In a free marketplace, the ideas will balance out.’”

    Is a “free marketplace of ideas” obliged to accept all comers? There isn’t enough time in the school year to teach even one tenth of the ideas whose backers want them in the public schools. There are folks who believe that division by zero is not really undefined (see http://members.lycos.co.uk/zerobyzero/Main.html ). Must we grant them time in math class? What about the hundreds of folks who think they’ve proven Einstein wrong (See http://egtphysics.net/Ron1/ronEGT.htm )? Should we truncate the physics syllabus to make room for them? Without at least some barriers to entry, the “free marketplace of ideas” becomes a free-for-all.

    I suspect Weissberg would not be so keen on a “free marketplace” which, lacking standards, allowed Holocaust denial to be taught in history class. Do we really want our kids to decide for themselves, based on a superficial examination of the evidence pro and con (which is all there would be time for), whether the Holocaust really happened?

    What standards, then? Asking the experts has worked pretty well in the past. Is Holocaust denial good history? Ask historians what the prevailing view is in their field. Is evolutionary theory fatally flawed, and is ID a better theory? Canvass biologists. This approach continues to be applied, with very little controversy, in most subject areas. Why make an exception of science?

    At the Dover trial, sociologist Steve Fuller suggested that science needed an “affirmative action strategy with regard to disadvantaged theories”, saying that ID should be taught in the school system in order to garner new recruits who would further develop it. This is absurd. Wegener had no such assistance, yet plate tectonics is now a cornerstone of geology. Margulis did not demand that schools teach her symbiogenesis theory, but the majority of biologists now accept it as the best explanation for the origin of chloroplasts and mitochondria. These theories elicited scorn and resistance from the scientific establishment, yet still managed to prevail. Why? Because they worked. They fit the data and explained it better than the extant theories.

    If ID is good science, it will triumph in the end. If it does, it will find a place in every public school science class. In the meantime, why is it entitled to special treatment that other new theories do not enjoy?

  9. So, you imagine a scenario where, if good science, ID will be accepted, yet at the same time you say it has no right being included in schools. Now, if the mere mention of ID is banned from schools, peer reviwers ban the subject in journals, college presidents come out and ban it, how do you suppose it would ever get the hearing to become accepted in the first place?

    I don’t see how this is asking for special treatment. Heck, the situation I see most from ID supporters is that teachers be allowed to mention it if they choose or if a student brings it up. If a student asked “I saw a program the other day on televsion where they said the holocaust never really happened…is that true?” Would you ban a teacher from even uttering the word “holocaust” let alone answering the question?

    According to my google search, very few biologists accept symbiogenesis, and it’s mainly only accepted by ecologists. It surely goes against the NDE view from 4 websites I skimmed thru. I’m not sure that the word “symbiogenesis” was ever banned from schools, universities, etc. Same for plate tectonics…not aware of any schools or colleges banning that word or the theory itself.

    Again I will say that consensus science is bunk. Science isn’t a popularity contest nor is it based on elections or votes…it’s based on facts derived from sources of knowledge. The fact that the consensus has been wrong so many times tells you the problem with consensus science and why the notion doesn’t even belong in science. These ideas you mention, and many others you didn’t, would have never made it into any field of thought if the mere mention of the theory brought scorn, ridicule, harassment, job loss, etc.

    That, and schools are paid for by the local citizens of any given community. School agendas aren’t set by consensus science, nor are they set by the courts. They aren’t set by a scientific affiliation, and they are set by congress- they’re set by the citizens that fund the schools, that work within their communities to decide what is best for the kids.

    Look at history- in the past 2 decades+ we’ve seen a major shift in the teaching of history. US history especially, which is now often times filled with bogus “facts” that do all they can to denigrate Columbus (just as one example) and others who the book publishers disagree with, using their bias to slant the lesson plans. Do schools look to historians to see what to teach in US history class? Hardly…closer to looking to advocacy groups as a number of recent books have shown to be the case. Problems abound in other subjects as well.

    In the end- the local community should choose what the local kids learn and how they learn it. Banning ideas does nothing at all…if a high school student can’t pick out the bad ideas from the good ones, then the school system itself is a failure to begin with.

  10. I empathize with the way you think, Keith. I wish more Darwinists were like you. ;) I’m personally inclined to concur with the DI’s position on the matter – it shouldn’t be required, but it shouldn’t be necessarily excluded, either. Any incorporation of it into a science or philosophy curriculum should be done very carefully so that all ideas are presented in an impartial manner.

    Concerning Holocaust deniers, I don’t think that arguments against the existance of the Holocaust should be presented to students in a general education history course. I believe that the Holocaust happened, but do any of us actually *know* that it happened, save those who actually lived through it? It’s called epistemology, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be taught in high school along with other philosophical concepts. (Think Intelligent Design.)

    David

  11. crandaddy writes:
    “I empathize with the way you think, Keith. I wish more Darwinists were like you.”

    Thanks, David. Once you get past the Satan worship and the human sacrifices, most of us are actually pretty nice. :-)

    On ID in the classroom, the problem is that I can’t think of a consistent standard that would allow ID in without also allowing a lot of other untested, immature theories in as well. There just isn’t enough time to cover all of them in a school year.

    I mean, c’mon — if even DI Fellow Paul Nelson admits that ID is lacking a theory, then it’s not ready for the classroom.

    Paul Nelson:
    “Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’- but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.”

    Regarding epistemology, I think it might be a little too rarefied for the general high school curriculum. Maybe an honors class. But I love your idea (expressed on a different thread) of adding a critical thinking class to the high school curriculum. That would be enormously valuable, and it would be well worth kicking something else out of the curriculum to make room for it. (But not evolution!)

  12. Josh asks:
    “If a student asked “I saw a program the other day on televsion where they said the holocaust never really happened…is that true?” Would you ban a teacher from even uttering the word “holocaust” let alone answering the question?”

    Of course I wouldn’t ban the word “holocaust”, since you can’t very well teach the Holocaust without using it, and since no modern history class would be complete without covering an event of that magnitude. As for Holocaust denial, astrology, white supremacy, etc., if a student asked about one of them, I would have no problem with the teacher discussing it briefly. But valuable classroom time should not be spent on detailed examinations of these questionable subjects or the arguments of their supporters.

    Josh continues:
    “According to my google search, very few biologists accept symbiogenesis, and it’s mainly only accepted by ecologists.”

    Josh, reread what I said, and pay attention to the part about chloroplasts and mitochondria:
    “Margulis did not demand that schools teach her symbiogenesis theory, but the majority of biologists now accept it as the best explanation for the origin of chloroplasts and mitochondria.”

    Now reread this excerpt from the Wikipedia article where you got your information:
    “Many ecologists agree, but this idea has little support from other evolutionary biologists… Other than the two examples of mitochondria and chloroplasts, there is no clear evidence of other major traits or transitions that can be attributed to symbiogenesis.”

    How about slowing down a little? It doesn’t help your arguments when you make mistakes like this.

    Even if my symbiogenesis example had been wrong, the point is that there are many theories that met resistance at first, but were eventually accepted into the science mainstream without any help from activist school boards.

    Josh continues:
    “Again I will say that consensus science is bunk. Science isn’t a popularity contest nor is it based on elections or votes…”

    If you simply mean that some unpopular ideas turn out to be true, then I agree. But so what? Many more unpopular ideas turn out to be wrong, and we don’t have time to cover all of them on the chance that some of them will turn out to be true. Covering the theories accepted by mainstream scientists is the best way, probabilistically, of minimizing the time wasted on bad science.

    Science is self-correcting, and good ideas make it to the fore eventually (even those with religious implications, like the Big Bang). I simply don’t understand why ID supporters won’t wait for ID to earn credibility before trying to inject it into the science classroom.

    Josh again:
    “Do schools look to historians to see what to teach in US history class? Hardly…closer to looking to advocacy groups as a number of recent books have shown to be the case. Problems abound in other subjects as well.”

    Let’s see… you’re saying that history curricula are influenced by advocacy groups, which is a bad thing… but that science curricula should be influenced by ID advocacy groups, which would be a good thing. Got it.

    Josh finishes:
    “…if a high school student can’t pick out the bad ideas from the good ones, then the school system itself is a failure to begin with.”

    Finally something we agree on. This is why I like crandaddy’s idea of adding a critical thinking class to the high school curriculum.

  13. “ID advocacy groups,”- ugh. Exactly..that’s what I said. No, I’m talking about political correctness…ID isn’t a form of PC. On top of that, Americans overwhelmingly support teaching ID not banning it. Few Americans support teaching in history classes that their European ancestors were evildoers who did nothing right, ruined the land, the people, and everything else on the planet.

    That, and you referred to Wikipedia, but I didn’t get my info. from Wikipedia…one look at Dembski’s page on that site is enough to make it useless as a factual source. I didn’t see anything about the two examples you listed. I saw merely that it’s not accepted by many outside of a minority of ecologists and that’s all I saw.

  14. I think some of you miss the main point. Whether secondary schools teach Darwinism or ID or neither or both or something else entirely is up to the local people. As much as you believe in it and crave it, there is no National Science Sanhedrin or National Science Police in the Constitution. Vote for board candidates in your district who represent your views on curriculum and other education matters. Respect the will of local majorities elsewhere, or state majorities as the case may be.

    Generally, the districts and states that want to teach ID do not then try to shove their preference down some other jurisdiction’s throat. Generally, Darwinists always try to shove their preference down everybody’s throat. They obviously think they’re Science Gods. Clearly, that sort of psychology is always compensatory.

  15. Concerning Holocaust deniers, I don’t think that arguments against the existance of the Holocaust should be presented to students in a general education history course. I believe that the Holocaust happened, but do any of us actually *know* that it happened, save those who actually lived through it? It’s called epistemology, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be taught in high school along with other philosophical concepts. (Think Intelligent Design.)

    David

    Comment by crandaddy — December 13, 2005 @ 3:46 am

    “I believe that the Holocaust happened, but do any of us actually *know* that it happened, save those who actually lived through it?”

    This statement is troublesome. Unless the same person means the same thing about every historical event that occurred prior to their own lifetime, or even during it, as long as it wasn’t their personal experience. But you rarely hear people express such views about WWII, WWI, civil war, etc

    It seems strange to me to select this event as one to focus on from such a perspective.

    This

  16. es58 criticizes this statement of crandaddy’s:
    “I believe that the Holocaust happened, but do any of us actually *know* that it happened, save those who actually lived through it?”

    es58 concedes the epistemological point of the example, but says:
    “This statement is troublesome. It seems strange to me to select this event as one to focus on from such a perspective.”

    In defense of crandaddy, he only used the Holocaust as his example because I had mentioned Holocaust denial in a previous post as an example of pseudo-scholarship that did not belong in the public school classroom.

  17. pmob1 is right. keiths is wrong.

    Teaching Intelligent Design is NOT equivalent to teaching a goofy theory someone has that a number can be divided by zero.
    What’s involved here isn’t just a “science” issue, but it is a constitutional issue and a democracy issue, an issue of self-government.

    Should a minority impose its BELIEFS upon a majority?
    Should a minority dictate to a majority?

    In America, we want NEITHER Kings NOR High Priests.
    We want NEITHER High Priests of religion NOR High Priests of “science” dictating.
    We don’t want anyone dictating.

    The beliefs of the majority MUST be respected or democracy will fail.
    This is NOT theoretical.

    Nearly or more than 50% of Americans believe the following:
    -God created human beings in their present form 51%
    -God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years 48%
    -God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it. 53%
    -Darwin’s theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries. 51% disagree

    -Evolution, Creationism & Intelligent Design, ALL THREE, should be taught in public schools. 55%

    -Respondents “thought about these different explanations for how human beings came to exist on earth: a great deal” 41%

    These results are from polls conducted by CBS, CNN and Gallup in 2004 and 2005
    http://www.pollingreport.com/science.htm

    These findings present a problem for education all right, but the problem IS NOT that these people are stupid and “just need more indoctrination” oops I mean education.

    The duly elected school boards, state and local, should have every right to set standards for education in their locals. There CAN be no legitimate U.S. Constitutional reason to deny them their right to set standards. The ONLY reason their beliefs are not now taught in schools is from GREAT RESPECT for the 3rd branch of governement, the courts.

    For 50 years, conservatives have been working to repair a broken (activist) judiciary that imposed evolution is the defacto “establishment of an (a)theistic religion” in public schools. This was done in contradiction of the “free exercise” and “free speech” clauses of the First Amendment. The period of time when Darwiniam mythology WAS RELIGIOUSLY IMPOSED upon school children in America to the great detriment of the nation will go down as a dark stain on American liberties and freedoms thought to be embodied in America’s founding documents.

    The day will come and I hope soon when evolution and intelligent design (and creationism too if the local school board approves it) will all be taught in science class. The pros and cons of each theory will be taught. Students and parents will be allowed to review the _scientific_ evidence and interpretations thereof for themselves and to make up their own minds. Let the research begin. Let the debate ON THE MERITS of the theories begin. Let the heavy handed dication end.

    Then we can turn to discovery and cease with debates where some person from on high asserts “there just isn’t time” to teach what he pooh-poohs as a wacky minority opinion when in fact it is an intellectually respectable and widely held opinion.

  18. pmob1 writes:
    “I think some of you miss the main point. Whether secondary schools teach Darwinism or ID…is up to the local people.”

    pmob,
    You’re the one missing the point. This is a discussion forum, where people present their views and argue with each other. Doing so does not imply that we think we have power over school curricula, any more than arguing politics means that you think Congress will act on your say-so.

    By the way, it is not “up to the local people” when a constitutional issue is involved (as in Dover). Then, thankfully, the courts have the final say.

    pmob1 continues:
    “As much as you believe in it and crave it, there is no National Science Sanhedrin or National Science Police in the Constitution.”

    I assume you’re addressing me, since nobody else is arguing the pro-evolution side on this thread. If you reread my posts, you’ll see that I advocate no such thing.

    Here’s what I wrote:
    “What standards, then? Asking the experts has worked pretty well in the past. Is Holocaust denial good history? Ask historians what the prevailing view is in their field. Is evolutionary theory fatally flawed, and is ID a better theory? Canvass biologists. This approach continues to be applied, with very little controversy, in most subject areas. Why make an exception of science?”

    I’m suggesting that school boards ask scientists for advice on curriculum decisions. This already happens all over the country when local school boards base their science curricula on the NAS model standards.

    pmob1 gets his dander up:
    “Respect the will of local majorities elsewhere, or state majorities as the case may be.”

    You don’t see me fomenting an armed rebellion to force a rewrite of the Kansas standards, do you?

    pmob1 concludes:
    “Generally, Darwinists always try to shove their preference down everybody’s throat. They obviously think they’re Science Gods. Clearly, that sort of psychology is always compensatory.”

    Wow, pmob, you ARE angry!

    Both sides are arguing a point, pmob. Don’t expect “Darwinists” to accede meekly and roll over when IDers attempt to advance an agenda that the “Darwinists” see as harmful to science.

    And lest you labor under the illusion that the ID side is all about conciliation and compromise, consider these stated goals, taken from the Discovery Institute’s infamous “Wedge Document”:

    “To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

    “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    “To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

    “To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.

    “To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.”

    Not exactly “live and let live”, is it?

    I admire some of your posts, pmob, but I think you let your emotions get the best of you on this one.

  19. Red Reader writes:
    “Teaching Intelligent Design is NOT equivalent to teaching a goofy theory someone has that a number can be divided by zero.”

    I didn’t say that it was. My point was to show that Weissberg’s “free marketplace of ideas” was untenable without some standards to limit what gets into the curriculum, since otherwise schools would have to give time to Mr. Divide-By-Zero and friends.

    Red Reader continues:
    “What’s involved here isn’t just a “science” issue, but it is a constitutional issue and a democracy issue, an issue of self-government.”

    There is a constitutional issue here, involving the establishment clause, but that’s probably not what you had in mind.

    Red Reader:
    “Nearly or more than 50% of Americans believe the following:
    -God created human beings in their present form 51%
    -God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years 48%
    -God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it. 53%
    etc.”

    It’s sort of amusing to juxtapose this with the following quote from Josh:

    “Again I will say that consensus science is bunk. Science isn’t a popularity contest nor is it based on elections or votes…”

    More than 50% of Americans believe that an electron is bigger than an atom. Most untrained people believe that if you swing a weight around your head and let it go, it will follow a curved path. These are quite popular ideas. Do they therefore belong in physics class, alongside “establishment” physics, with the pros and cons of each being carefully taught, and the students free to “make up their own minds”?

    “The duly elected school boards, state and local, should have every right to set standards for education in their locals.”

    They do, as long as they don’t run afoul of the Constitution. I’m just saying that school boards would be wise, for the sake of the children, to pay attention to what the experts in each field have to say about what is and isn’t valid scholarship.

  20. science and public education policies are 2 different things. popularity and majority rule definitely wins in education and how we set the policies of schools, the texts, how things are taught, etc.

    in science- if were going with popularity and consensus…then the anti-ID crowd has no choice but to say that the whole of science was totally bunk before the late 1850′s considering ALL science was creation science before darwin published his theories and all scientists were creationists. few would be willing to say that all science was bunk overall before darwin, because they know that consensus means nothing in science, but then they turn around and proclaim that consensus is the ONLY way to do science. or rather, the consensus is the way to go only when they are, themselves, a part of the consensus.

  21. Josh writes:
    “…if we’re going with popularity and consensus…then the anti-ID crowd has no choice but to say that the whole of science was totally bunk before the late 1850’s considering ALL science was creation science before darwin published his theories and all scientists were creationists.”

    I love it when Josh claims I have “no choice” as an ID opponent but to say something, and then proceeds to put his words into my mouth. It’s a lot easier to argue against someone when you get to decide what they “must” believe.

    Josh, science *evolves* over time. That is one of its chief strengths. What was good science in 1840 may not be good science now.

    By the standard of consulting the experts, it made sense to teach creationism in the 1840′s, since the majority of scientists believed it (although probably not young-earth creationism, since it was understood by then that the earth was much older than 10,000 years). Had I lived then, I’m almost certain I would have been a creationist.

    Prior to Darwin, it was difficult to explain the diversity and apparent design of life without recourse to a Designer. But as Richard Dawkins put it, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

  22. Keiths- you complain that you have more than that choice I mentioned, then you say that good science today would qualify science in the 1840′s as bad science. That’s what I said. ID Critics proclaim that consensus is the way, yet consensus science, for the great majority of scientists throughout all of science, has been creationist. So, by 2005 terms, most of science was bad science…sure, it was okay science at the time, but in comparison to today, it was bunk. That was my point. Or are you arguing that ID critics are fine with the whole of science and find it only acceptable to attack ID supporters or even creationists today? Why is it okay to attack these people today if we’re not to attack those in the past? Evidence is always seen thru the eyes of a human being who is not always rational, not always neutral, not always objective, not always lacking bias, etc. The evidence is seen by literally tens of thousands of scientists and laypeople as supporting creationism, or maybe a common designer with descent, or maybe common design without descent…or a dozen other various ideas. Most ID critics would complain that the scientists of the past were wrong, that consensus was in fact wrong in a very big way…but hello- if most of the history of consensus science has been against the consensus today, then we can only conclude that it’s quite possible that the consensus today is just as wrong as the consensus from 1840 or 1740 or 1640 or any other time. The biggest chunk of science consensus was wrong (in the eyes of most critics), it’s fairly arrogant to proclaim that today the consensus can count on any better a track record! Consensus science to this day is wrong often on too many different theories to count.

    If science back then was bad science by today’s standards, then you’re basically saying that it was bad science. It was a mistake to see things the way they did, they were wrong, however you want to put it. But to say that you have to conclude that most scientists thru history were practicing, what is in fact, bad science.

    The idea that things evolved over time wasn’t a new idea from Darwin- that idea is as old as science itself and goes back further before true science came about. It’s an anicent theory, in fact…but most scientists throughout the ages have opposed the idea that life is a series of trillions of happy accidents that serve no purpose, no meaning, etc. That life is just a pointless struggle to survive and die (check livescience’s website, this is precisely what they say Darwinism means. They actually go further to proclaim that Darwinism means that there is no meaning to life at all, that there’s no afterlife, no God, etc. Will Provine said the very same thing.)

    Fortunately, for all scientists, it’s difficult to even explain how life started without looking to design, let alone how a 1 celled organism could arise, mutate and somehow give rise to all life we see today (not to mention the enormous amounts of information that would have had to have been generated by the 1 celled organism and all that supposedly came after it.) How this hypothetical ancestor could have even survived at all, let alone survived long enough to mutate and get these changes into the overall scheme of things is a prohlem science can’t even begin to discuss. How that ancestor somehow generated enough information content to actually spawn a new novel form is beyond science. How the others who came after it generated the stunning amt of info in a single strand of dna is beyond science.

    So, these difficulties still exist, tho too many ignore them. I suspect much of the reasoning behind this refusal to accept the gaping holes in our knowledge is the reason you posted yourself via Dawkins.

    Overall, the same people that demand consensus science be the only science don’t usually support the idea completely. They attack creationism or any idea that might even be remotely close as ignorance, psuedo-science, etc. Yet, the great men of science for most of science practiced the very thing they decry as nonsense. Science changes over time, sure…but that doesn’t change the situation. How can a scientist today looking at the evidence and concluding that he’s a creationist be a fool to critics, yet Newton who was clearly a creationist is just fine? One could very easily argue that the evidence today could be linked to support the creation stance even further (more so than the pointless, meaningless drive to merely reproduce, which is the idea underlying NDE)- darwin didn’t know about dna or the stunning complexities of even the smallest cell…if we had known about all of this in his time, is it possible that creationism would still be the rule? No doubt Dawkins’ quote is true- Darwin did make it possible for atheists to be intellectually fulfilled…surely that has a lot to do with the current dogma that exists.

  23. Josh,
    The meaning to wordcount ratio of your posts is trending in the wrong direction. For the sake of all the folks reading this blog, couldn’t you try to tighten things up a bit?

    Let me answer just one of your points. You say that the “consensus science” of 2005 is likely to be wrong, just as the science of 1740 and 1840 were wrong. Apparently you are stressing (and stressing, and stressing) this point because you believe that if “consensus science” cannot be proven to be correct, it cannot usefully provide guidance for what gets included in science curricula.

    Of course the science of 2005 is not the final word, Josh! John Horgan notwithstanding, science has a long way to go before we can lay off all the scientists and put them to work mowing lawns.

    But what “better” science do we have to base our curricula on than the science of 2005? And if we try to cover highly speculative theories, how can we tell which ones are going to pan out? We can’t. If we try to cover all of them (and there are a LOT of them), we confuse the students and displace useful material from the syllabus, all for the sake of giving ID a special break that no other theory has gotten.

    It just doesn’t make sense.

  24. Keith, you may view ID as a “highly speculative theory”, but to most Americans it’s common sense. For many years experts in another field–education–mandated “whole language reading” for students in California’s government schools. Since tons of research is done in the field of education, I’m sure they had lots of studies to backup the policy. Unfortunately, whole language reading doesn’t work, and after many years, the method was finally dumped.

    The point is, when experts’ views collide with common sense and the everyday experience of regular people, the experts owe it to the people to give an open hearing to opposing views. The Stalinist attitude and tactics of the science establishment toward ID and it’s supporters indicates to me that there’s more going on here than a mere attempt to avoid having to address every “highly speculative theory” that might come down the pike. Leading Darwinist scientists are behaving in such a defensive manner that regular people–including myself– cannot help but wonder what it is they’re trying to hide.

  25. keiths,
    You: You’re the one missing the point.
    Me: But saying you were missing the point WAS my point. Sheese. I’m not stopping you from arguing. Weird.

    You: By the way, it is not “up to the local people” when a constitutional issue is involved (as in Dover). Then, thankfully, the courts have the final say.

    Me: There is no constitutional issue, only a rampaging judge issue. Article 1 is very clear. Congress shall make no law. The Dover School Board is not Congress. They can do whatever they damn please. This was the case in America for hundreds of years until a few judges “just felt” that “it was time” for a change. If you really think the court has standing in these local affairs and can really “make it up they go along,” you better get ready because a super-religious court could then come in and “just feel” that “it is time” for every district to say the catechism every morning. You wouldn’t like that would you. But then, for you, it’s just about “results,” agendas, not principle.

    You: “Asking the experts has worked pretty well in the past. “
    Me: You’re a funny man. No one’s talking about asking. Asking implies free options, and that’s not something you guys would ever tolerate in all your “diversity.” We’re talking about 10,000 lawyers hounding local districts. We’re talking about “finding a judge” to “get it done” in the schools. For liberals, there is no higher expression of law than judge-shopping and no higher expression of “education” than a harassment suit. If you want to know what Darwinist “science” is really all about, just think Lawyers, Lawyers, Lawyers and you’ll be real close.

    You: “I’m suggesting that school boards ask scientists for advice on curriculum decisions.”
    No you’re not. You are advocating mandatory curriculum rulings by panels of lawyers hired by “scientists.” You’re fundamentally dishonest, not least of all with your self.

    You: “Both sides are arguing a point, pmob. Don’t expect “Darwinists” to accede meekly and roll over when IDers attempt to advance an agenda that the “Darwinists” see as harmful to science.”

    Not even close. ID-ers are not pushing for uniform, orthodox science curriculums in every district in the U.S. Only Darwinists do that. Some of us actually believe in what you only claim to believe in: diversity, as in diversity of opinions, diversity of science curriculums, diversity of morals laws, diversity of criminal penalties, etc. The Darwinists are exactly like the gay-marriage crowd. They want to shove a uniform, national, orthodox elitist code down the throats of every jurisdiction in the U.S. No doubt some judge somewhere “just feels” its time.

    The battle between ID and Darwinists is irrelevant to local boards. They can choose either, both, neither. That’s their decision, not the Science Sanhedrin’s.

    What is it about free choice and local control that keeps you up at night? I don’t get it. The Borg is for TV. This is America. Get used to it.

  26. russ writes:
    “Keith, you may view ID as a “highly speculative theory”, but to most Americans it’s common sense.”

    Russ,
    It’s also common sense that
    1. Time passes at the same rate everywhere.
    2. The odds in the Monty Hall problem are 50-50 (Google it if you haven’t heard of it).
    3. Heavier weights fall significantly faster than lighter ones.

    In the 1920′s, most folks thought that rockets wouldn’t work outside of the atmosphere without something to “push” against (Goddard and the infamous NY Times editorial).

    These are, of course, all wrong. Common sense is simply not good enough as an arbiter of scientific truth.

    russ again:
    “The point is, when experts’ views collide with common sense and the everyday experience of regular people, the experts owe it to the people to give an open hearing to opposing views.”

    I agree that experts should consider opposing views. I just don’t think it makes sense to teach the opposing views in public schools if the experts overwhelmingly reject them.

    I’m not saying the experts are infallible. They are not, and never will be. But they’re our best defense against bogus or immature science in the schools. And science is self-correcting, so any mistakes they make will be temporary (as in the case of plate tectonics).

  27. keiths: You’re the one missing the point.
    pmob1: But saying you were missing the point WAS my point.
    keiths: Obviously.

    “There is no constitutional issue, only a rampaging judge issue. Article 1 is very clear.”

    Both sides have invoked the Constitution. The plaintiffs cite the establishment clause; the defendants, the free exercise clause. That makes it a constitutional issue twice over.

    “You are advocating mandatory curriculum rulings by panels of lawyers hired by ‘scientists.’”.

    Show me where I say that.

    “The battle between ID and Darwinists is irrelevant to local boards. They can choose either, both, neither. That’s their decision, not the Science Sanhedrin’s.”

    When constitutional issues are at stake, the courts have a say as well.

  28. I agree that experts should consider opposing views. I just don’t think it makes sense to teach the opposing views in public schools if the experts overwhelmingly reject them.
    ———-

    Therein lies just one of the problems. Who elected these experts to their positions as experts? Is a creation scientist with 20 graduate degrees and 50 years of research less of a scientist than another Darwinian evolutionist with a bachelor’s degree and 2 yrs of experience in research?

    Does the consensus automatically get the position of the elect? If so, we can easily conclude that these elect aren’t very elect at all- since the consensus has been wrong more times than we could possibly count.

    Which comittee of science elect gets to choose what the “expert” view is?

    Let’s face it- we really don’t know much of anything about the world we live in…we know so little that the “experts” actively push absurd ideas such as multiple universes, wormholes that will lead from one side of the universe to the other in a matter of seconds, and other ridiculous theories that get serious time, yet some level of design which is common sense to most scientists in general is considered by the expert elect to be a bunk idea from the start and it needs to be banned.

  29. keiths,

    If I may coin a term, in honor of Phillip Johnson, no American should ever give quarter to “class-action science.”

  30. I’ll add a minor mod to an already coined term, hear no Id, See no Id, Speak no Id and maybe the will go away.

    Charlie

  31. Orthodox Jews in S. FL
    You wrote: “I suspect Weissberg would not be so keen on a “free marketplace” which, lacking standards, allowed Holocaust denial to be taught in history class.”

    So you think Weissberg fears the truth, fears dialog? I’m not so sure.

    Here’s a related issue: the holocaust rackets, the reparations rackets. Should a public school use Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry as a text? I don’t know. It’s not a bad little book, as far as it goes. But that’s up to the local district.

    As for Irving-type deniers, again, Constitutionally, that’s up to each state and, given a state’s willingness to respect the locals, its up to each district. If such a class allowed the free exchange of ideas, I wonder if denier arguments would fare that well. If the class were raw indoctrination, like Darwinism, that would be regrettable, of course, but Government Schools already do dumber things.

    The main thing is to ensure that parents have the freedom to send their kids where they please and not be forced to tax-support schools they oppose. Some of us have faith that Americans will make the right choices for their kids and their tax dollars. You apparently think there are some “good” and “caring” bureaucrats somewhere who know better.

  32. Charliecrs,

    Fine with me.

    All I’m saying is sue no ID.

    Regrettably, class-action science is become Darwinism’s addiction. The two are inseparable.

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