Surprise! 3 intelligent design proponents recommend keeping antievolution language

The Discovery Institute’s blog Evolution News and Views tells us that "Science Education Experts Recommend Strengthening Students’ Critical Thinking Skills by Retaining “Strengths and Weaknesses” Language in Texas Science Standards." This post, written by Robert Crowther is referring to the fact that three of the six experts brought in to review the proposed standards have recommended that the language remain in the science standards. These three members are Stephen Meyer, Charles Garner, and Ralph Seelke. Guess what? Each of these reviewers support Intelligent Design! I guess this post should be filed under the captain obvious category.

Lets address a couple of the points presented in the post.  First, why did the group recommend keeping the language? As Casey Luskin points out:

Examining the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories is a core part of the scientific process, and abandoning such critical analysis merely to satisfy ideological demands of Darwinists harms students by giving them a false view of scientific inquiry.

What Ideological demands? I guess Luskin is referring to the ideology of requiring facts and experimental evidence. Does he really think that bringing up false criticisms of a highly substantiated theory is going to help with students views of “scientific inquiry?”

Reviewer Stephen Meyer observes that:

"Science education that does not encourage students to evaluate competing scientific arguments is not teaching students about the way science actually operates"

The competing theories implied by Meyer is intelligent design, However, I think Meyer is a little confused here. Competing theories need to have evidence in order to be considered. Intelligent design does not have any.

I really do think that critical analysis is very important for today’s students.  I just don’t think trying to criticize a legitimate theory with pseudoscience is the best way to go about teaching critical thinking   Why not teach critical thinking skills by addressing some of the pseudoscience in society today?  It is not like we would be clamoring for subjects. Homeopathy, astrology, numerology, and creationism would all be valid and easy.  The only reason to pick evolution as the area for teaching critical thinking is due to ulterior motives.

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6 Responses

  1. You have captioned this article:

    “intelligent design proponents recommend keeping antievolution language”

    I would have to conclude that your reference to “antievolution language” is a subjective conclusion, based on your belief that that is its underlying motive. I have to disagree.

    To summarize the article cited, R Crowther states:

    * the TEKS should not only retain the “strengths and weaknesses” language, but strengthen critical thinking skills by explicitly applying this approach to the study of specific scientific theories and hypotheses, including biological and chemical evolution.
    * the TEKS should not include pejorative or inaccurate language in their definition of science, but they should encourage students to understand how scientists think skeptically and critically and engage in scientific debate when solving scientific problems.
    * the TEKS should encourage students to learn about the impact of science on culture and society, providing both positive and negative examples of such impacts.

    In the cited article, Casey Luskin is quoted as stating:

    Some activist groups are pressuring the State Board to cut that language from the TEKS in order to artificially shield Darwin’s theory from the normal process of scientific inquiry …

    Judging from the militant response from these groups ,including the NCSE, I feel there is validity to this observation. But the response itself is overblown, I feel. As an example, here are some quotes from the drafters of the ’21st Century Science Coalition’ petition:

    “Don McLeroy, is on record stating that there are two kinds of science: one that uses natural explanations, and one that relies on supernatural explanations. He is dead wrong about this: supernatural explanations have no place in science classrooms.”

    “Just as we do not include auto mechanics in the curriculum for teaching English, and we do not include discussions of baking principles in the curriculum for foreign languages, discussions of the supernatural have no place in the curriculum for science.”

    ” … teaching “weaknesses” is a wedge allowing teachers to insert their personal religious views into public science classrooms.”

    “We can’t expect the future citizens of Texas to be successful with a 19th-century science education. They will not be successful with a science education diluted and hobbled by false arguments about strengths and weaknesses.”

    “We should teach students 21st-century science, not some watered-down version with phony arguments that nonscientists disingenuously call “weaknesses.” Calling “intelligent design” arguments a “weakness” of evolution is like calling alchemy a “weakness” of chemistry, or astrology a “weakness” of astronomy.

    Every one of those statements is a ‘straw man attack’, based on untoward fears of the science community, that the sacrosanct theory of evolution cannot be questioned.

    In its defense, DI does not seek to bring religion to the classroom, but to maintain scientific objectivity. Nor are they “anti-evolution”, in the sense of seeking to bring down the theory. The ID hypothesis, which is not sought to be taught as an alternate theory by the way, competes not with evolutionary theory in toto, but as an alternative to natural selection of random mutations as the source of novelty and complexity. It does not require supernatural causation, merely intelligent intervention. To that degree, it is worthy of further scientific study.

    To conclude, the language now in place (since 1998) can and should remain, since rather than harming science, it merely reflects upon its accountability, and reinforces the principle of openness to competing hypothesis.

  2. Typo:

    ” … and reinforces the principle of openness to competing hypotheses (plural).”

    … since Intelligent Design v. RM + NS is not the only area of contention within science.

  3. Greetings,

    Here’s an article explaining that ID/creationism is not only a rather transparent fig leaf for political sectarianism but outright heresy.

    Intelligent design/creationism is not only cherry-picked science, it is faulty theology as well. Startling as it may seem, by continually protesting that “blind” chance could only lead to “accidental evolution”, all denialist forms of creationism contradict the Bible’s clear teachings that chance occurrence in the universe (randomness), is always under God’s direct control!…Oops! Try this:

    http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=34289

    It’s called: “Intelligent Design Rules Out God’s Sovereignty Over Chance”

  4. Here’s an article explaining that ID/creationism is not only a rather transparent fig leaf for political sectarianism but outright heresy.

    Well as you (should) know, ID is not Creationism, although some religionists have co-opted the term (Dover v Kitzmiller et al). Ask Ken Ham what he thinks of ID.

    On the other hand, yes, Ken and others regard ID as heretical, since in its current flavor, it embraces common descent, and does not deny evolutionary processes, albeit with intelligent intervention.

    Now for this author, David White, who posted it first on http://www.phoebekate.com, 9/14/08, I would say that he might consider lecturing church groups about the evils of considering ‘ordered’ creation in any form, and to get them to sign on to Michael Zimmerman’s ‘Clergy Project Letter’ while he’s at it.

    His scriptural take on the implicitness of Divine sovereignty over randomness, (after all, God did tell the sojourners in the Land of Canaan to cast lots), implies, no proves that God controls all chance events.

    From David White’s essay:

    Such overwhelming control would have to preside over any number of even the tiniest chance biochemical mutations and over any possible span of time. This would certainly stack the deck prior to natural selection.

    So Dwayne offers an alternative. ID or God stacking the genomic deck. Take your pick.

  5. Lee,

    Thank you for your interest in my blog and leaving such a well thought out comment. However, I must also disagree with some of your points.

    You argue that scientists believe “that the sacrosanct theory of evolution cannot be questioned.” I disagree. Scientists are fine with people questioning evolutionary theory, but it has to be done properly. It has to be done with evidence and experimentation by professionals, not by teaching our kids logical fallacies and denial of evidence.

    You also feel that ID is worth further scientific study. I am not sure that it has ever been truly scientifically studied. How can it be when the theory is not clearly defined without any specifics of time, involvement, or mechanism of design? Furthermore, there is no real evidence for it. Things that were formally called irreducibly complex (i.e. bacterial flagellum) now have been shown to have less complex but working precursors. Since the idea has been around since the 80’s, it has been around long enough for evidence to be coming in, but it hasn’t. Therefore, there is little value in studying ID.

    I am not sure if you really have the motives of the Discovery Institute right. If you look at the “Wedge document,” they spell it out in no uncertain terms that their goal is to make science compatible with their religion. You can not maintain scientific objectivity when you have such a bias.

    Dwayne,

    Thanks for the link. Definitely something interesting to think about. Will have to get back to you on that…

  6. Lee Bowman: I would have to conclude that your reference to “antievolution language” is a subjective conclusion, based on your belief that that is its underlying motive. I have to disagree.

    of course, anyone familiar with the Wedge document would not make such a silly assertion. Of course this is all about religious motivation, and not about science, or the DI would have presented the science behind ID and expose the absence thereof.

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