Sunday, April 14, 2013


Designing Creation

The Murrysville (Pennsylvania) Star has an extensive article, entitled "Intelligent design teaching stirs debate," by Daveen Rae Kurutz about Intelligent Design as it is "on the ground" and it is most revealing!

The subject is a six-week "Origins" series that was organized by Cornerstone Ministries that included the Discovery [sic] Institute's Paul Nelson (correctly described as "[w]idely considered a creationist") and the execrable Jerry Bergman saying this:
[Darwin] was a chauvinist pig that never evolved and believed women evolved less than men. Why are we taking a man like that and holding him up as an example to our children?
And Martin Luther was an anti-Semite, so anyone who teaches Protestant Christianity is wrong to hold him up as an example to children? Darwin was human and his attitude towards women was not very enlightened by our standards. But if he is held up as an example, it is because of the meticulous science he conducted, something Bergman wouldn't recognize if it bit him on the ass.

The article is a bit of a mess but not, I think, because of the reporter. Unlike so many of her compatriots, Ms. Kurutz made an attempt to really get "both sides," giving prominent space to Josh Rosenau of the NCSE and making rather strong statements such as:
Considered in the context of the scientific method — the basic process that calls for scientists to observe, measure, experiment and test, revise and, if possible, disprove their hypothesis — intelligent design isn't science at all, opponents of intelligent design say.

They say the notion at the heart of the idea can't be scientifically tested or disproved. If the scientific method can't be applied to the idea, it isn't science and doesn't belong in a science classroom, they say. In essence, it's religion without using the word "God."

In Pennsylvania, the courts agree. In 2005, Judge John E. Jones III ruled that teaching intelligent design in public schools violates part of the First Amendment because it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
The contradictions all come from the creationist side.

Donn Chapman, senior pastor at Cornerstone, said he became interested in the subject when a staff member asked about the evolution his child was studying. So Chapman borrowed a copy of the textbook, intending to present the material in a "way that is more akin to our faith."
Chapman, who hosts a weekly show called "Origins" on Cornerstone's Christian TV station, said schools should focus on sharing ideas and learning the truth. In particular, he advocates for teachers sharing alternate ideas — most notably intelligent design — on evolution.
In one of those shows, featuring Paul Nelson, he maintains that the show "Is a forum where we take the evidence of science and use it to validate the truth of creation." (See, "Origins - The Miracle of Development Part 2")

But, of course, he gives the obligatory denial:
Intelligent design isn't the same as creationism, he said. Creationism is a belief that God created man, animals and the earth in six days, Chapman said. Intelligent design, he said, is based on scientific evidence and points to a directed process and a designer, not necessarily God.
Riiight! It's just more akin to his faith to pretend that the evidence of science validates the truth of creation ... without falling afoul of the Constitution by actually mentioning who the "designer" is.

Just in case you think I'm being uncharitable in my interpretation of Chapman's position, he spelled it out plainly:
"Our kids shouldn't have to surrender their faith to get a good scientific education," Chapman said. "That's all I'm saying. The church and home have work to do to teach who that creator is and to bring them to know God."
In other words, teach ID as a way of making it easier for churches and parents to teach children their religious beliefs. Chapman and like-minded pastors and parents have the constitutional right to teach religion but they do not have the right to use taxpayer money to make it easier for them, especially not by having the schools lie to them about the science of evolution.

There's a lot more to the article, so go read it ... but make sure your blood pressure meds are up to date.

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This is good:

"Ramsey said she would be OK with her science teachers reviewing more than just Darwin's theories in class.

'In other classes, we have free reign to discuss other ideas,' Ramsey said. 'In social studies, we talk about different political ideas, so why not in science?'"

The implication here is that scientific theories are just as ideological as political systems -- there's no objective basis for adjudicating between them. Someone who thinks this really doesn't understand what science is. Not surprising, but worth making explicit.
Yeah, I was going to include that but it was getting too long.

Another thing I left out is the fact that the local schools' policy is that teachers can answer students' questions about ID and creationism but that's not good enough for them. They want the teachers to be able to give the kids their "own thinking." No doubt, they feel confident that it will be generally acceptable theism-friendly stuff. That'll last until the first Scientologist starts talking about Thetans.
For sure, there is no discussion about whether Calvin Ball would be better than football or basketball. In golf, the lowest score is the winner - why not make that the rule in other sports? It's just a matter of convention. And think of the conventions that we impose upon musicians when we could be enjoying the sounds of modern music!

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