Archive for Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pivotal ruling

December 24, 2005


To the editor:

I was delighted to read that a federal judge ruled today (Dec. 20) that the Dover, Pa., school board's injection of intelligent design into science classrooms is unconstitutional because it advances a particular brand of conservative Christianity. Thus, it violates the constitutional ban on establishment of religion.

He could have stopped at that point, but Judge John E. Jones III went further and made a valuable point that is self-evident to me as a scientist and to every other scientist I know: Intelligent design is not science. It is not science because it makes no hypotheses that can be tested. Furthermore, it is not science because it invokes a supernatural power, and science deals only with natural phenomena.

This "stinging rebuke," as the New York Times puts it, has relevance for us in Kansas. The Kansas State Board of Education has tried to redefine science by removing the words "natural explanations" from the definition. This is a clear attempt to allow supernatural explanations into the science curriculum, and it is no secret that the six conservative members of the board favor the supernatural intelligent design explanation of human origins. But the very nature of science cannot be changed with the stroke of a pen. And now a federal judge has ruled decisively that it is unconstitutional to try to do so.

Robert Weaver,



Jeff Barclay 11 years ago

How can evolution's mechanisms of time and chance be tested? This is where evolution does not hold up under the scientific method. Has an evolutionist ever been able to reproduce evolution in a test tube or laboratory table?

DuQuesne 11 years ago

Thank you, Mr. Weaver. I would add that much of the discourse around this matter would become much more civil if all parties would recognize the premise of the working definitions in use. Scientific inquiry is conducted in particular ways and according to particular rules which have been worked out and shown to work over many decades, if not centuries. Participants in the scientific process are happy to explain how it's done so the public can participate, as well.

When you object to the teaching of one particular theory or the rejection of another, and fail utterly to demonstrate any understanding of what you are arguing about, they your attempted contribution to the dialog will be discounted. Plainly put, most objections to evolutionary theory contain the semantic equivalent of, "I don't understand it, therefore it's wrong."

-Schuyler DuQuesne

yourworstnightmare 11 years ago

Dr. Weaver is absolutely correct.

Barclay: It is also bullocks to say that evolution is not and cannot be tested. It is tested all of the time and has been tested for 150 years. Because it has survived and has in fact been strengthened by this testing makes is a very strong theory indeed.

The "recreate it in a test-tube" is also a bullocks argument. Evolution has been demonstrated again and again in the lab and in natural experiments.

Regardless, this "recreation in a test-tube" argument rests on the idea that all science must be "recreated in a test tube". This is ridiculous. Scientists can't recreate the Roman empire; they can't recreate black holes and stars and nebula. They can't recreate many of the things studied by science.

Recreation in a test tube is one type of testing. gathering data is another.

Creationist IDers had better get a better argument than "recreate it in a test-tube", which is vacuous.

Ember 11 years ago

Evolution is just a shorter way of saying 'Natural Selection Coupled with Adaptation'. That is really what evolution is in a nut shell. But it spans so many eons that it is physically impossible to recreate the initial protein molecule combinations.

That doesn't, however, invalidate it. Evolution can be observed in other areas than simple genetics. Social evolution is a prime example. The outmoded and repugnant concepts of yesteryear are slowly being completely eradicated, replaced with more modern, socially viable ones. Natural selection on an interaction level can be more easily observed.

ID doesn't present any direct evidence that something else created us. It assumes it because there are aspects of genetics that we cannot understand as of yet. An assumption is not grounds for scientific evidence.

It was once assumed that a black male was only 3/5 of a person.

It was once assumed that women were not intelligent enough to understand politics, and thus were not allowed to vote.

I could cite a dozen examples of how an assumption was accepted as scientific proof without any evidence. Most were brought about by one church or another, mainly the Roman Catholic church to be more specific, although the Church of England has a few faux pas it'd sooner forget than remember.

The only true difference between ID and Creationism as it was originally presented to the world is the fact that ID allows for the outside chance that we're some random aliens' science experiment run amok.

Now if you can provide direct proof of a deity, any deity will do, or these alleged aliens, it would probably help their arguments out a bit. Until they do, ID honestly has no business being discussed as a science. It's more of a philosophy than anything else.

And as to the 'test tube' comments, balderdash.

Gravity cannot be recreated in a test tube, nor can Pythagoras' theorum. We do accept them as being proven by science, though.

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