Home » Intelligent Design » Professor Reiss ‘Expelled.’

Professor Reiss ‘Expelled.’

Professor Reiss, an Anglican minister, has been forced out of his position at the Royal Society for calling for discussions in the science classroom if children raise questions about intelligent design or creationism. In response some Fellows, including Richard Dawkins, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts, objected and brought their full weight of authority to bear by calling for his resignation. Now the Darwinistas have got their scalp.

BBC – ‘Creationism’ biologist quits job

Lord Robert Winston, professor of science and society at Imperial College London, commented: “I fear that in this action the Royal Society may have only diminished itself…. This is not a good day for the reputation of science or scientists…. This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science – something that the Royal Society should applaud.”

They can presumably now kiss goodbye to ‘Nullius in verba‘ (On no one’s word of authority).

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24 Responses to Professor Reiss ‘Expelled.’

  1. Unbelievable. Look into this. They just ate one of their own for suggesting that students who bring up creationism in the classroom be treated with some measure of respect, but never-the-less told that they are wrong.

  2. Dawkins, knows they screwed up and and is trying to backpeddle out of it by “proving” that he didn’t approve of this sacking BEFORE it happened … hee hee

  3. Off Topic: have you folks seen the two articles discussing the complexity found in what were considered early, simple life forms? See
    here for one and
    here for a news clip on the other. For a short summary of both see here.

  4. “Dawkins, knows they screwed up and and is trying to backpeddle out of it by “proving” that he didn’t approve of this sacking BEFORE it happened … hee hee”

    I guess he voted against it before he voted for it?….

  5. “People must constantly remind themselves that Richard Dawkins, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts evolved; they were not designed.”

    ID supporters and advocates have pissed everyone off. You guys are awesome!

    I am new to this debate, so I hope you will bear with me if I make some mistakes. I just finished offering a few posts at Sandwalk, the enclosed center of naturalism. I am always so astonished at the incredible hate people have for you, especially in the scientific community. You must be on to something big!

  6. Off topic: (@4)

    I did not enjoy the evolutionary spin in the “Sea Anemone Provides a New View of Animal Evolution” (seems like they could have hypothesized front-loading with such data instead of ‘shedding new light on evolution’, but hey, it’s Science mag). Otherwise very interesting. I hope more and more studies are done comapring early genomes against ‘modern’ creatures.

    Prediction: the next incarnation of macro-darwinism says that genomes START out highly complex and general (ignore how they came to be) and predicts they become smaller and specified in more developed species. Then we truly will have the opposite to what Darwin predicted so long ago (will we still call it darwinism?).

  7. Prediction: the next incarnation of macro-darwinism says that genomes START out highly complex and general (ignore how they came to be) and predicts they become smaller and specified in more developed species.

    I think I remember reading/hearing something along those lines in the last year…

  8. Avonwatches (#8) and Patrick (#9):

    I’d struggle to find chapter and verse without some digging, but I’m fairly sure that historical linguistics follows this sort of pattern: ‘ancient’ languages tend to be very complex, with multiple cases and a large number of irregular verbs, whereas more modern languages (English in particular) are much simpler in their structure and more streamlined.

    I hardly need say that according to the Biblical record, human language is a case study in ‘front loading’ (Gen. 11:9) followed by selection and interaction, so if DNA shows a similar pattern then the implications are in plain sight.

  9. I’m a dastardly “Darwinist”, and I think it’s disgraceful that Reiss has been made to step down. It’s especially surprising because I’m having a hard time seeing what is so objectionable about the views he expressed. This is just fuelling the embers of the “Expelled” thesis.”

    People here are suggesting that Richard Dawkins had something to do with the decision to remove Reiss. I’ve seen no evidence for this. In fact, Dawkins has said that Reiss’s position “is not obviously silly like creationism itself, nor is it a self-evidently inappropriate stance for the Royal Society to take.” He’s also said that calling for Reiss’s resignation “comes a little too close to a witch-hunt for my squeamish taste.” And he wrote this before Reiss resigned.

    http://richarddawkins.net/arti.....ver#248447

    So where are you guys getting the idea that he supported this move?

  10. Too ad for him but, honestly? This is great news.

    Day after day it is getting pretty obvious the materialists are cornered. I just hope, though i dont think it will happen, this mr. Reiss can reevaluate his own beliefs about origins. (he, MacGrath and the whole church of England by the way, composed of what? 100 members?).

  11. Human language may be a case study in ‘front loading’, but that is not easy to demonstrate. What we do know are two things: 1) language is created anew in every generation of children; and 2) grammars are continually recycled.

    Here on the rez I sometimes ask the folks how it is that their indigenous language, with conjugations and inflections so elaborate they’re seemingly unlearnable, could have been the language of stone age illiterates. Language comes front-loaded from scholars in high places, doesn’t it? Well, no, and here’s why. Adults normally don’t like learning grammar—they prefer to memorize phrases, sentences, sayings, songs—but children? They’re just the opposite. They want the grammar. The little child doesn’t memorize sets of phrases, rather he says, “Daddy goed” instead of “Daddy went”. The child seemingly comes equipped with—or tunes into—the logic of what it takes to process complex information. The child is looking for the grammar.

    If we had to depend on scholars to create and maintain our languages they’d be greatly impoverished.

    Then, if you interpret Genesis 11 as explaining the origin of linguistic diversity (i.e., the Flood was universal), then you will view the various reconstructed Proto-languages (Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Semitic, Proto-Elamo-Dravidian, etc.) as examples of front-loading acted upon since by an intelligent genre of natural selection. Studies in grammaticalization, however, indicate that all grammatical affixes evolve (ultimately) from lexical words, namely a small set of verbs (be, go, stay, take, give …) and body part nouns (head, hand, back, foot …). And the metaphors for this are rather limited. For example, the future tense derives either from a time is motion or a volition metaphor (English has both futures: “It’s going to rain” and “It will rain”). The affixes in reconstructed Proto-Languages give the appearance of the same kind of origin.

    Now it may well be that all human languages descend from some Proto-World endowed in adult humans by the Designer, but it’s pretty hard to prove. What we do know is that humans are designed to speak. If children are deprived of common access to grammar they will create it—the basics at first which then evolves over time through use by intelligent agents.

  12. The reasoning here is truly absurd. The official position of the Royal Society is:

    “However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.”

    Surely this is the view advocated by Michael Reiss? It’s as though creationism has become the “ism” that communism once was. Anyone even mentioning it should be treated as if they have a contagious disease.

    I also found the interview with Reiss and Underdown to be very enlightening. The calm, reasonable statements by Reiss versus the stuttering and largely incoherent counterargument from Underdown.

  13. Ah, yes, it looks like the elites have become so removed from reality that they don’t see the sparks of revolution all around (or maybe they do!), and so in great haughtiness they look down their inerrant noses, pronounce the catechism, and expel.

    What’s heartening is that they’re having trouble hiding their animus. What if the public—busy with other things—catches on? Their reactive hubris just could do them in!

  14. Sotto,

    Dawkins:
    Zoologist Richard Dawkins, a Royal Society fellow, said: ‘A clergyman in charge of education for the country’s leading scientific organisation – it’s a Monty Python sketch.’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....4/religion

    Then right before we learn of Reiss’ leaving the RS, Dawkins quickly posts this:

    “I’m working on getting a version of this published somewhere in the British press.
    Richard

    Perhaps, rather than resign his job with the Royal Society, Professor Reiss might consider resigning his Orders?”

    Then, minutes later, Dawkins says that it has just been made PUBLIC that Reiss resigned.

    “The Royal Society has just publicly announced that Michael Reiss has resigned from his position of Director of Education. I have refused to comment to the press, other than to refer to my comment, posted above, BEFORE the news of his resignation was announced.
    Richard”

    http://richarddawkins.net/arti.....ver#248463

    He stresses that his previous post was made BEFORE the public annoucement of the resignation. Seems clear he knew before it was announced that Reiss had resigned and he knew they had engaged in a witch hunt and he was wanting to distance himself from it even though he helped pile the sticks for the witch-burning.

  15. YEC,

    Dawkins’ “Monty Python” comment is silly (as are many of his comments on religion) but it certainly doesn’t amount to anything like a call for resignation. And given that he expressed his disapproval of these calls before the resignation was publicly announced, you can’t accuse him of changing his position due to public pressure. If you do think he changed his mind about Reiss resigning, to what do you attribute this? Why would he go from supporting Kroto and Roberts to calling their campaign a “witch hunt”?

  16. Reiss Expelled, or rather “Fried”, is covered by Nature here http://www.nature.com/news/200......1116.html

  17. @9. “I think I remember reading/hearing something along those lines in the last year…”

    Sorry :/ I have only known about this site since May-ish. I did not think my words were novel. It is just the next logical step, given the way evidence is appearing.

    Re: Post Topic.

    How can it be acceptable for a man to be fired/forced to resign over a comment? Why can it not be discussed, or at least be told “no, we aren’t going to do that” and tell him to stay away from the ‘dangerous’ idea? Is he able to pursue legal action over this (I am asking, not suggesting)?

  18. I know Michael Reiss, and I was shocked by the way in which the Royal Society forced his resignation. His expertise overlaps considerably with mine–we’re both former high school science teachers, we both publish peer-reviewed work on aspects of science and religion, and we’re both serious Christians. I’m the V-P of the American Scientific Affiliation, and Michael is an important member of our sister organization, Christians in Science.

    Michael is a highly competent expert in medical ethics and science education. To be frank, he probably knows a great deal more about science education than most Fellows of the RS (several of whom I also know), including those who protested his statements to Martin Rees. They should have been instructed by him, not Rees by them.

    Reiss’ comments about responding seriously to creationists in science classes are IMO absolutely on target; and I can pretty much guarantee that I’ve taught about, read about, and written about creationism a great deal more than any Nobel laureate in the RS. In other words: I know what I’m talking about, and they don’t (on this issue). Ditto for Reiss. The comments from some leading scientists in the RS who oppose what he said, it seems to me, reflect both ignorance of the origins controversy (with which we here in the US have much more experience than our friends across the pond) and arrogance about science education itself (on that score we can match the Brits).

    What Reiss was calling for, apparently, was some serious talk about how science works and what science is, and why creationism fails to qualify as science. Why distinguished scientists would not want that to happen in science classes is beyond me: shame on them.

    I am thinking of writing a pointed letter to the RS about this.

  19. What Reiss was calling for, apparently, was some serious talk about how science works and what science is, and why creationism fails to qualify as science. Why distinguished scientists would not want that to happen in science classes is beyond me: shame on them.

    Perhaps the reason they don’t want to talk about creationism is they can’t make a convincing argument that it fails to qualify as science.

    Creationism can easily be framed in terms of science. The difficult part is making it convincing in terms of science. Darwinian macroevolution seems to suffer under the same difficulty given the percentage of people who fail to be convinced.

  20. Agreed, DS: Ruse’s argument in Arkansas (that creationism isn’t science) was wrong; it’s just bad science. I was reporting on what Reiss apparently said, and I would still say that conversations about the general topic (creationism’s status as science, or bad science) shouldn’t be ruled out arbitrarily. Which is what those RS scientists apparently think.

  21. Ted

    I was responding to your statement:

    Why distinguished scientists would not want that [creationism discussion] to happen in science classes is beyond me: shame on them.

    Unlike you, it’s not beyond me. Almost any good businessman, ambassador, or politician does everything he can to avoid being asked a question for which he has no answer. Distinguished scientists don’t want creationism to come up because it raises too many questions they cannot answer. Whether this is instinctive, conscious, or unconscious avoidance I don’t know but there’s little mystery in why it’s being avoided.

  22. DaveScot
    Almost any good businessman, ambassador, or politician does everything he can to avoid being asked a question for which he has no answer.

    For this circumstance, I enjoyed the parallel of a scientist to a politician enormously. The issue of Reiss’s firing certainly seems to lean more towards reasons of politics than science. Following a line of logical reasoning, NSM’s entry proves a valid assessment of the position of the scientific community toward Creationism.

    NSM: Surely this is the view advocated by Michael Reiss? It’s as though creationism has become the “ism” that communism once was. Anyone even mentioning it should be treated as if they have a contagious disease.
    and
    “The view of the Royal Academy is that if creationism is raised by a student, the teacher should explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.”

    Starting from this statement, we must logically conclude that Reiss’s beliefs are in line with the Royal Academy. As quoted in this article, Reiss states that he believes Creationism and Intelligent Design are not the products of scientific reasoning. But he goes on to clarify that, “Just because something lacks scientific support doesn’t seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson.” He describes the debates from his own education that forced students to defend their thoughts on a subject in a way that allowed for logic and evidence. He then makes this statement: “So when teaching evolution, there is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have (hardly a revolutionary idea in science teaching) and doing one’s best to have a genuine discussion. The word ‘genuine’ doesn’t mean that creationism or intelligent design deserve equal time.” Clearly, not supporting ID views.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....reationism

    Richard Dawkins offers statements implying that Michael Reiss’s values as a priest were influencing his teaching or that he wanted to foist his Creationist viewpoint onto his students.
    http://richarddawkins.net/arti.....ver#248447

    The only priestly value I find Reiss pushing is a desire to freely discuss. It’s clear from his statements that he desired his students be able to discuss his explanations of why Creationism does not offer sound scientific merit. So far, I have detected nothing from Reiss’s comments to indicate that he desired his students to side with Creationism. Quite the opposite actually; he seems to greatly desire they realize and understand the lack of scientific merit this theory presents.

    The Royal Academy offers a polite and tidy explanation of Reiss’s firing that offers absolutely no reasoning beyond his apparent disagreement with the Society’s credo and his “misinterpreted statements”. Hmm. A perfect diplomatic statement without reasoning to support the conclusion. Personally, I’ll be voting for Reiss.

    (It is interesting to explore how some scientists will ostracize any member of their clan, even when they only SEEM to disagree. Got to keep up appearances. :)

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