Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dover, PA vs. Darwin update

The other day, I blogged on the trial now going on in a Dover, Pennsylvania courthouse Has the 'monkey' from the scopes trial been elected to the school board?

Well, today a scientist confirmed that the problem with Intelligent Design is that it hasn't been held up to the standard that is expected in science. Dr. Robert T. Pennock, a Professor of Science and Philosophy at the University of Michigan, testified,

"As scientists go about their business, they follow a method,..."Intelligent design wants to reject that and so it doesn't really fall within the purview of science."

Gee, the scientific method. Two years ago, one of my then second grade daughters won a 'best of show' in our local science fair while FOLLOWING the scientific method in her project. By the time she was done, she understood the need to TEST a hypothesis. I guess that means that she knows more than six members of the Dover, Pennsylvania school board.

Also during the trial, a judge agreed to limit questioning of two reporters who wrote that during the October 2004 board meeting when the school board voted to incorporate Intelligent Design into the curriculum, the board members had actually discussed Creationism, to verifying the accuracy of their stories.

We will stay on top of this trial as it unfolds.


dorsano said...

As far as I'm concerned, there's a poverty in not being able to see the intelligent design in evolution. There's no contradiction between science and my faith. To my eye, each reveals beauty in the other.

Christians can come to different conclusions about whether or not a 16 day undifferentiated cell has a soul. They can come to different conclusions about end of life issues.

When one group claims otherwise, they threaten my religious freedom and they attack the social compact which brought us together as one people at a time when Christians were persecuting and killing other Christians in the name of God.

When a political party supports such an assault on that basic social compact, it's no longer preserving our union, it's helping to destroy it.

Eli Blake said...


Astute observation. Those of us who are Christians DO apply the scientific method to get there.


I also believe that God (and I don't call him the 'Intelligent Designer' either, I use the word, 'God') has directed evolution.

But that isn't what this is about.

As I said, I believe that God has directed evolution.

Science, however, is not about beliefs. It is about observed data, rational, unbiased hypotheses to explain that data, and the construction of experiments designed to test those hypotheses.

What I think, what you think, or what the milkman thinks, is not science. It is opinion. It is philosophy. It is theology. But it is not science.

Anonymous said...

I understand your opposition to teaching creationism in a science class, and I accept that is a reasonable position.

The problem is that there are no required core courses in our middle or high schools that teach any other explanations for life.

If we are going to teach that life happened by chance in Science class then can't we offer some required core class that might offer other explanations?

Maybe a Philosophy course or some other course that exposes students to a variety of ideas about life.

What do you think?


Eli Blake said...


Philosophy, sure.

Also, theology, and civics.

But it doesn't belong in a science class, until or unless there is some sort of hard scientific evidence. That is what all science is held to.

Anonymous said...

So you don't have a problem with a required core class like Philosophy that teaches various forms of creationism as well as a variety of other subjects.

Wouldn't the left say that we can't require a core class like that because we would be in a way requiring the study of religion?

I am for it but I'll be the left in our country wouldn't like it.

Eli Blake said...


Of course there is no problem with teaching it in philosophy. I had it in my philosophy class. In fact, I learned a great deal about different views of the creation of the world in that class (we had a very good teacher) including the Hindu view and the animist view. And yes, the Biblical view was discussed. I doubt if there is a problem with it as long as no particular view is pushed by the school to the detriment of others.


As long as this is such a hot topic, it absolutely is appropriate for a civics class.

But, philosophy and civics differ from science in that opinion and conjecture is supposed to be part of those courses. In science there is a very specific standard of scientific proof as to what should and should not be considered as scientifically valid.

Anonymous said...

Civics courses are part of the required subjects in high school, but I will bet you that if you check the text books creationisn is not brought up in any civics courses.

The problem is as I said that there are no required courses in which creationism is discussed (or any other ideas about the origin of life). We teach evolution and the Big Bang in Science which rightfully is a required course.

We should require a philosophy course but the progressives won't allow requiring the course as part of a core curriculum if the course includes creationism. That is my point.

Christian Liberals are caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue.

Eli Blake said...


Civics is required, and as far as this is an ongoing controversy, it is fine to include it in a civics course.

Philosophy is not generally required, but if someone wants to study it, then it is an option for them.

However, I would say that those of us who do, in fact, subscribe to the idea that God made the earth and made man (through whatever mechanism) have, thanks to the founding fathers, two much better forums to teach it than in a biology classroom, or even in a school room of any kind-- the first being at home, the second being in a religious class at church (and nearly all churches do have some kind of Sunday school classes where kids can learn the theology of the church on this and other matters). So it's not like the children of Christian liberals, as you put it, don't get to hear all about creation. In fact, my kids are nine and they know both about creation and evolution, and we have had some much deeper discussions of the subject than probably a lot of teenagers have (When she were five, I asked one of them the 'which came first, the chicken or the egg' question, and we got into a prolonged discussion then about evolution and creation).

Now, I haven't seen a bunch of biologists going to court trying to mandate that evolution be taught in a Sunday school class (and there is a very good reason for this, it is called the U.S. Constitution), so why is it that religious conservatives insist that they have to gain entry into biology classes.

In fact, the 'Big Bang' (which fits very well, by the way, with 'Let there be light' was not taught in science classes as a part of the standard curriculum until background radiation in space was detected which supported it, causing Fred Hoyle, the chief scientific opponent of it, to throw in the towel and admit that the radiation in question was as predicted by the Big Bang theory and not consistent with his 'steady state' view. That is the way science is done.

Find a way of defining either an experiment or predicting an outcome which Intelligent Design would support, and then it is fine to teach it in a science class. Until then, it is an unproven hypothesis. And unproven hypotheses don't belong in a science class.

The irony of course to me is, that conservatives who want to put it there anyway, pick and choose what science they accept anyway. I just put up a post yesterday on global warming, a situation where much that was predicted a generation ago by scientists modeling global warming is exactly what is being observed today, but there are still people who refuse to acknowlege even hard evidence, instead preferring to either deny its existence, referring to non-existent evidence to the contrary, or claiming that it must be a 'natural phase' or some other malarkey that they didn't predict 20 years ago when the researchers on greenhouse emissions predicted, well, global warming.

What this all tells me is that conservatives either don't understand, or choose not to understand, the scientific method.