Friday, January 13, 2006


Where's Omar When You Need Him?

Sadly, there is yet more trouble to report in the "big tent."

In South Carolina, State Senator Mike Fair is trying to get the state science standards related to evolution rewritten. Fair is quoted as saying:

[The proposal] doesn't introduce intelligent design or creationism or any other ism. It just says teach it all. Be critical of it. Pretty much what scientists would say. Ask why.
While it isn’t clear how "it all" relates to various isms, it seems Fair is stumbling towards a Discovery Institute approved "teach the controversy" position. Problem is, one of Fair’s supporters on the state Board of Education, Ron Wilson, a believer in a literal interpretation of the biblical account, thinks Fair doesn’t go far enough:
I think we ought to just call it what it is. It's creationism.
As the IDeologists learned to their sorrow in Dover, you can lead creationists to a school board but you can’t make ‘em think.

Meanwhile, the good folks of Lebec, California have ventured out into the treacherous waters of Intelligent Design versus evolution and may soon know what Pete Seeger meant about being waist deep in the Big Muddy.

The El Tejon Unified School District has . . . um . . . created a course for credit that purports to examine the philosophical questions surrounding ID and evolution. Having made pretty much a botch of the attempt (see the original syllabus for a prime example of letting the cat out of the bag), they got themselves sued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which was a major player in the Dover school board case that resulted in the seminal decision by Federal Judge John E. Jones III that held that ID is a theological proposition, not a scientific one.

Some authorities have argued that ID could constitutionally be covered in comparative religion or philosophy courses. Perhaps relying on such opinions, a district teacher, Sharon Lemburg, proposed an elective course, entitled "Philosophy of Design," which is apparently being fully supported by the District’s Superintendent, John Wight. Ms. Lemburg is a special education teacher whose certification is in physical education, bringing to mind Woody Allen’s mot: "Those who can't do teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym." A casual glance at her original syllabus makes it almost superfluous to mention that she is the wife of an Assemblies of God minister.

After a couple of days of castigating "Darwinists" for being dogmatic and wanting to ban ID, the Discovery Institute woke up to the fact that, despite more than a decade of its best efforts to teach creationists the proper "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean," the folks in Lebec had come up with a course that "wrongly mixes intelligent design with young earth creationism or Biblical creationism."

That, of course, is not the real objection to this class. Even if the young earth creationism was removed, the problem would remain that the focus is on the wrong level of the relevant philosophy. Evolutionary theory rests on exactly the same philosophical basis that underlies every other scientific field. The discussion, therefore, should be between the philosophy of science and the philosophy under which ID operates which, as we learned from Michael Behe in his testimony in Dover, would allow astrology equal scientific status with astronomy. Creationists don’t want to be seen as criticizing the whole of science, however, as that would make it all too clear that they are, in truth, intellectual Luddites who want to return the world to a pre-scientific age. The difficulty is, just as Judge Jones found it was illicit to single out evolution for "scientific" criticism because it was historically opposed by certain religious views, it is just as illicit to create a class to select evolution, out of all the sciences, for philosophical criticism.

In this light, it becomes obvious that the El Tejon Unified School District has attempted the mirror image of the original ID ploy. Despite all the DI’s protests to the contrary, the ID program was to inject a theological/philosophical proposition into elementary and high school science classes to give it the cache of science. Now, post-Dover, El Tejon seeks to take the scientific proposition that is evolutionary theory and "reduce" it to a philosophical argument mislabeled "Darwinism." In either case, the attempt to put creationism on the same epistemological footing as evolutionary theory in public schools is a violation of the Establishment clause in that it seeks to further a religious view.

This makes the letter the DI sent to the school district even more than usually ironic:

We respectfully request that you either reformulate the course by removing the young earth creationist materials or retitle the course as a course not focused on intelligent design. Otherwise, this course could be damaging to scientists and other scholars investigating intelligent design as a genuinely scientific alternative to Darwinism . . .
Perhaps the DI thinks that it has a copyright on the word "design." At the very least, one has to wonder how "scientists and other scholars" could be damaged by a high school course being found to be improper. Do you suppose Einstein, toiling away at the patent office, was worried about the Theory of Relativity being despoiled by the machinations of phys ed teachers?

Oh, wait! Einstein wasn't engaged in a political attempt to circumvent the United States Constitution, was he?

"Who is this who darkens
counsel By words without
knowledge? Now prepare
yourself like a man; I will
question you, and you shall
answer Me.

"Where were you when I
laid the foundations of the
earth? Tell Me, if you
have understanding. Who
determined its measurements?

Surely you know! Or who
stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations
fastened? Or who laid its
cornerstone, When the
morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God
shouted for joy? "Or who
shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and
issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds
its garment, And thick
darkness its swaddling
band; When I fixed My
limit for it, And set bars
and doors; When I said,
'This far you may come,
but no farther, And here
your proud waves must stop!'

"Have you commanded the
morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know
its place, That it might take hold
of the ends of the earth, And
the wicked be shaken out of it?
It takes on form like clay under
a seal, And stands out like a
garment. From the wicked
their light is withheld, And
the upraised arm is broken.

"Have you entered the springs
of the sea? Or have you walked
in search of the depths? Have
the gates of death been
revealed to you? Or have
you seen the doors of the
shadow of death? Have
you comprehended the
breadth of the earth?

Tell Me, if you know all this.

"Where is the way to the
dwelling of light? And
darkness, where is its
place, That you may
take it to its territory,
That you may know
the paths to its home?

Do you know it,
because you were
born then, Or because
the number of your days
is great? "Have you
entered the treasury
of snow, Or have you
seen the treasury of hail,
Which I have reserved
for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle
and war? By what way
is light diffused, Or
the east wind scattered
over the earth?

"Who has divided
a channel for the
overflowing water,
Or a path for the
thunderbolt, To
cause it to rain
on a land where
there is no one,
A wilderness in
which there is no
man; To satisfy
the desolate waste,
And cause to spring
forth the growth of
tender grass?

Has the rain a
father? Or who
has begotten the
drops of dew?

From whose
womb comes
the ice? And the
frost of heaven,
who gives it birth?

The waters harden
like stone, And the
surface of the deep
is frozen. "Can you
bind the cluster of the
Pleiades, Or loose the
belt of Orion? Can you
bring out Mazzaroth in
its season? Or can you
guide the Great Bear
with its cubs? Do you
know the ordinances of
the heavens? Can you
set their dominion over
the earth? "Can you lift
up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water
may cover you? Can you
send out lightnings, that they
may go, And say to you,
'Here we are!'? Who
has put wisdom in the mind?

Or who has given understanding
to the heart?

Who can number the clouds
by wisdom? Or who can pour
out the bottles of heaven,
When the dust hardens in
clumps, And the clods cling

"Can you hunt the prey for
the lion, Or satisfy the appetite
of the young lions, When they
crouch in their dens, Or lurk
in their lairs to lie in wait?

Who provides food for
the raven, When its young
ones cry to God, And
wander about for lack
of food?

Best Wishes,
Dr. Howdy

P.S. You have a riveting web
log and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.


I'm with God, Job, and Dr. Howdy (if he isn' quoting scripture tongue in cheek).

You are more than welcome to visit my blogspot:

Why all the angst out there in evolutionland? Is all the relatively newfound complexity of life a little disconcerting to those who've filled our schoolchildren with untruths for so many decades? Darwinian evolution is statistically impossible.

Most teachers I have known hate to see their kids tell lies, but the little god of bad science is growing so desperate he still allows publishers to put the pre-horses, the pre-men, and Haeckel's drawings of fish to infant drawings in the textbooks.

Come visit with me and we will do something somewhat rare. We will discuss the evidence.
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