Friday, March 02, 2007


Boy, Have You Got a Surprise Coming!

Wartburg College, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, will be holding an intelligent design conference, sponsored by Iowans for Religion and Science Dialogue, later this month.

According to this article in the Christian Post, "[t]he conference hopes to gain some positive support in favor of intelligent design." Then it takes a detour, complaining about the Idaho Science Teachers Association's recent vote to take the position that it would be unethical for them to teach creation science or intelligent design because it is not science, and it does not belong in a science classroom.

Many Christians and intelligent design proponents disagree with this assertion, however, contending that the theory is based upon credible science and reason. ...

According to the scientific method, scientists first make observations which they then make into a hypothesis. That hypothesis should allow predictions that can be checked via experiments. If those predictions hold up, then conclusively the hypothesis is supported by scientific data.

Many have criticized intelligent design in this aspect, because they say that, unlike evolution, it is impossible to scientifically test or observe God.

Intelligent Design advocates have responded by noting that it is not God they are trying to prove, but that the world was made from some kind of "creator." A scientist can test this hypothesis by looking for high levels of "complex-specified information" (CSI), a scenario which is unlikely to happen (making it complex), and conforms to a pattern (making it specified). Thus, the theory has scientific legitimacy.
That "definition" of science is typically mangled: experiments are not a necessary part of the scientific method (as astronomers can amply testify to) and what is meant by "conclusively supported hypotheses" is an utter mystery. But, amusingly, the description of how ID is science is missing precisely those same hallmarks: experiments and predictions. At least the author is an equal opportunity babbler.

Then the whining commences:

The Idaho ruling has dismayed many Christians who just want a chance for children to learn intelligent design next to evolution while at school.
So, up to now, I'm expecting that the conference is going to be a roundup of the usual Discovery Institute suspects, but there's a kicker:

The conference put on by Wartburg will have four major presenters including Wesley Elsberry, information project director for the National Council for Science Education; John Haught, theologian and research professor from Georgetown University; Jennifer Miller, teacher in Dover, Penn.; and John Ayers, adjunct professor from Waldorf College.
Wes has just moved to Michigan State University from his gig with the NCSE. He is the keeper of the Talk Origins Archive and a longtime opponent of creationism. Professor Haught was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller case, who testified that ID is a religious idea, not a scientific one. Jennifer Miller was one of the science teachers who refused to read the ID statement mandated by the Dover school board in class. Only Ayers is unknown to me but, as an attorney and Roman Catholic deacon, there is a good chance he's not in favor of teaching ID in public school science classes.

It looks like the author of the article needs to do research on more than just the nature of science.

The conference went well. I only heard about a couple of ID cheerleaders in attendance, none of whom apparently came to any of the workshops I was at.

My talk title was, "A Eulogy for Intelligent Design Brand Antievolution". I'm afraid that I didn't give the folks at the Christian Post what they were hoping for. Since ID brand antievolution began as deception and ended as "breathtaking inanity", I see no reason why any Christian would want to associate with it.

Wesley R. Elsberry
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