by Denyse O'Leary
Celebs, pundits, and freelance opinionators offer thoughts, opinions, gossip, and quotes on ID, some to pin up on your wall and some to put down on the bottom of Fluffo's litter box. Here are a bunch, in alphabetical order. Scroll down to find your fave or your pet hate. If you are writing a paper, these folks may provide good quotes; otherwise, just a coffee break read. I will try to update this post, as I accumulate more opinions. I am, of course, in no way responsible for the truth, charity, sensibleness, or defamation avoidance of any punditry offered. I have interspersed some notes of my own, demarcated as Notes.
Adams, Mike S. suspects (June 4, 2007) that popular Darwinism is supported mainly as a way of avoiding responsibility for sexual choices:
My understanding of (and disrespect for) the underpinnings of modern feminism was actually fostered by a biologist who once made a very candid remark about the foundation of his support of Darwinism. When asked about the lack of evidence supporting Darwinism Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the fossil record, etc. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he confessed there was a very human reason for his faith in evolutionary theory despite the lack of scientific evidence. He confessed that if Darwinism were not true, he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be able to sleep around.
At the heart of his support for Darwinism was a desire to get God out of the picture by any means whatsoever. And his desire to get God out of the picture was in turn motivated by his desire to copulate with as many people as possible without feeling guilty. I wonder whether some untenured psychologist would dare to publish a paper called Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Cognitive Dissonance Theory of Human Devolution.Ã¢â‚¬Â I think we all know the answer to that question. (June 4, 2007)
A tricky case to argue nowadays, when so many people think that they are beyond virtue rather than beneath it, ... but Adams argues it fearlessly. It's a good thing he got tenure recently.
In "Backward, Christian Soldiers", Anderson explains how ID advances dreadful theocracy. "For practical reasonsÃ¯Â¿Â½reasons both of politics and civilityÃ¯Â¿Â½it ordinarily behooves our tiny minority of reality-based infidels to keep quiet about our astonishment that most of our fellow citizens are in thrall to fantastic medieval fever dreams, just as it behooves secular minorities in Islamic countries to keep their modern sentiments to themselves. In countries like ours, the Iraqs and Afghanistans and USAs, liberals need to pick their battles." (Note: I couldn't believe I was reading this, but my eyes did not deceive me. Can this New Yawkster really think that his disagreements with his neighbours over ID are in any way comparable to the sufferings of the women of Afghanistan? Or that the idea that the universe or life forms show evidence of intelligent design has anything to do with any of it? Well, if there were a discursive dictionary of self-centredness, I'd have a great quote to suggest. )
Bahr, Scott , a freelance writer from Livonia, Michigan, notes in the Detroit News that evolution theory relies on faith, too:
Both creationists and evolutionists have logically derived hypotheses for the origin of our world and its inhabitants. Creationists believe in an Intelligent Designer who set nature in motion, and evolutionists believe that nature itself is the infinite being and the source of all we know.
How theories differ
Both theories cite the same evidence, but they interpret the evidence differently based on their presuppositions. For example, science shows that a wide variety of organisms share an extraordinarily high percentage of DNA sequences. Evolutionists see this as evidence of a common ancestor, but creationists see this as evidence of a common builder.
The problem with answering the question of origins is that neither hypothesis is testable. We can't recreate the scenario to observe the process.
Balter, Michael, argues that teaching challenges to Darwinism should be permitted in the classroom, "Pro-evolution scientists have little to lose and everything to gain from a nationwide debate. Let's put the leading proponents of intelligent design and our sharpest evolutionary biologists on a national television panel and let them take their best shots. If biblical literalists want to join in, let them. Let's encourage teachers to stage debates in their classrooms or in assemblies. Students can be assigned to one or the other side, and guest speakers can be invited. Among other things, students would learn that science, when properly done, reaches conclusions via experimentation, evidence and argument, not through majority view." (Note: It is hard to imagine anything Darwinists would want less. There are so many issues that are not seriously addressed, simply shelved with pieties about future discoveries. )
Bekelis, Bob. See Thomas, Cal
Buckley, Bill muses "In the United States, the battlefront is in the schools, on the question of evolution and creationism. If a 14-year-old student is introduced to the contingent possibility that life evolved as it did because its creator so willed it, which of the following risks, from the hard-line evolutionistsÃ¯Â¿Â½ point of view, is that student taking? 1) His intellectual disqualification by admitting creationism, for which there is no scientific no warrant, into his thinking? 2) A lifelong intellectual confusion, perhaps disabling in its consequences, which will keep him from prevailing as a responsible thinker and actor? Or perhaps, 3) a lifetime as an agent of teleological confusion, with the result that he will not only mislead himself, but also mislead others?"
Buckley, Bill (William) It is great to see someone taking on the bullying character of organized Darwinism.
An intimidatingly learned colleague has written to a few friends to deplore the latest bulletin on Senator John McCain, who is of course running for president. The news is that McCain has agreed to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Discovery Institute in Seattle. What offends my friend is that the think tank in question supports the concept of Intelligent Design. And the question raisedÃ¢â‚¬â€believe it or notÃ¢â‚¬â€is whether such a latitudinarian thinker should be thought qualified to be president of the United States.
But the contention continued, and has been explored from time to time under heavy lights. My own forensic involvement took place nine years ago as host of Firing Line. The two-hour, nationally televised debate on the topic "Resolved: that the evolutionists should acknowledge creation" featured seven professors. Four of them took the establishmentarian scientific position. It is, essentially, that not only is naturalism established as verified science, but any interposition into the pictureÃ¢â‚¬â€of inquisitiveness, let alone conviction that there might have been design in the evolution of our worldÃ¢â‚¬â€is excluded.
But that was a tough night for those who hoped that the lunacy of creationist thought would prove self-evident. The evolutionists had to contend with, for instance, Phillip E. Johnson, professor emeritus of law at the University of California at Berkeley, who wrote the book Darwin on Trial , and then Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.
Some day, someone must write a history of the intelligent design controversy that is not just propaganda for either side. The stakes are high, after all - a vast civilization.
Bullock, Roddy M., director of the Intelligent Design Network of Ohio, argues in the Lehigh U campus newspaper, "Knowing Ken Miller, an advocate for Darwinian evolution, is a Ã¯Â¿Â½religiousÃ¯Â¿Â½ man does little to bring clarity or resolution to the scientific issues in the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. In a strange reversal of roles, on the question, Ã¯Â¿Â½Where do we come from?Ã¯Â¿Â½ religion is often liberal, while science has become dogmatic. Therefore, rather than stress oneÃ¯Â¿Â½s religious bona fides in an attempt at appeasement of those who are differently-religious, one should stick to the scientific issues in any attempt to resolve the conflict." (Note: Yes, if there is one type of discourse in the ID controversy that I would gladly never hear again, it is the "I am a religious man" protests from advocates of Darwinian-only evolution. Is Darwinism more plausible on account of your religiosity? Then what if you were not a religious man? Would that make Darwinism less plausible? Ah, just as I thought. It wouldn't. Then no more do I care how your religiosity would make it more plausible.)
Burgess, Stuart, in Britain's Independent (February 8, 2007), notes from his perspective as an engineer:
Evolution cannot be taken as a fact of science because of the ambiguities in the evidence. The fossil record can be evidence for and against evolution because of the gaps. Similarities in DNA code can be just as much evidence for a common designer as for evolution. Most significantly, scientists have failed to reproduce the spontaneous generation of life for 60 years.
I've been designing systems like spacecraft for more than 20 years. One of the lessons I've learnt is that complex systems require an immense amount of intelligence to design. I've seen a lot of irreducible complexity in engineering. I have also seen organs in nature that are apparently irreducible. An irreducibly complex organ is one where several parts are required simultaneously for the system to function usefully, so it cannot have evolved, bit by bit, over time.
This "Against the Grain" column resulted from an interview with Nick Jackson.
Writing in the Bend Bulletin (July 3, 2006), Chadwell, notes
Recently, the state of South Carolina joined Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kansas and New Mexico by approving statewide science standards which require a critical analysis of evolution in science classrooms. In these five states the standard-issue Darwinian evolution will still be taught, but with an interesting twist which ought to raise some eyebrows - the scientific WEAKNESSES of Darwinian theory will ALSO be disclosed.
In a country where ideals such as free speech, diversity, balance and tolerance are preached constantly, the remaining states DO NOT ALLOW the scientific weaknesses of Darwinian evolution to be presented in our public school science classrooms. This means that, in the state of Oregon (and 44 others) Darwinian evolution is taught as sheer dogma - scientific weaknesses are withheld from our students and Darwinian evolution is presented as a theory of origins that is incontrovertible. It is important to note that of the aforementioned five states, precisely NONE has required that opposing theories of origins, such as Intelligent Design, be included in the state's science curricula. The standards adopted in those states require ONLY an objective presentation of the strengths AND weaknesses of evolutionary theory.
It's important to scrutinize the media's reporting on this point because as these states have come forward, reporters have repeatedly spun the decisions as victories for Intelligent Design, as though Intelligent Design had some relevance in the decision and as though ID will be taught in these five states as a result. Yet nothing is further from the truth - there is no language in these five states' science standards which requires - or even allows - the teaching of Intelligent Design or any other competing theory.
No, but Darwinism, as it exists today, seems hardly in a position to sustain any questions. It seems to be a demand that we interpret the whole history of evolution in the light of one theory, just as Marxism required us to interpret the whole history of economics in the light of one theory.
Chopra, Deepak, "It's high time to rescue 'intelligent design' from the politics of religion. There are too many riddles not yet answered by either biology or the Bible, and by asking them honestly, without foregone conclusions, science could take a huge leap forward." (Note: Working from what sounds like a Hindu perspective, Chopra points out some facts that David Stove noted in Darwinian Fairytales. as well as many others that undermine a purely Darwinian perspective on evolution.)
Cohen, Jonah, who does not accept ID, nonetheless thinks it should be taught in schools and slams myths about it. For example, "Those who advocate intelligent design are not 'disguising' anything; they are not furtive men. They are offering for your consideration an idea that has intrigued the minds of everyone from Plato to Kant, an idea that possibly began when Socrates asked: 'With such signs of forethought in the design of living creatures, can you doubt they are the work of choice or design?'" (Note: This is refreshing in an age when motivated nonsense is swallowed by gullible bureaucrats who then trip over themselves defending the status quo.)
Crichton, Michael is a medical doctor and thriller writer, but has strong opinions on why science must depend on evidence, not merely the consensus of a punditocracy. He talks about the SETI search as a religion, for example.
Derbyshire, John insists on Darwinism as consensus science in the school system. (Note: If all you need is consensus, well, Derbyshire's your man, except for the fact that Darwinism isn't anything like a consensus in many school systems. Unfortunately, his strategy sounds like a recipe for conflict.) John Derbyshire also explains how he gradually ceased to be a Christian, and curiously, ID-related stuff played a role:
I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith. To take a single point at random: The idea that we are made in GodÃ¯Â¿Â½s image implies we are a finished product. We are not, though. It is now indisputable that natural selection has been going on not just through human prehistory, but through recorded history too, and is still going on today, and will go on into the future, presumably to speciation, either natural or artificial. So which human being was made in GodÃ¯Â¿Â½s image: the one of 100,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago? The one of today? The species that will descend from us? All of those future post-human species, or just some of them? And so on. The genomes are all different. They are not the same creature. And if they are all made in GodÃ¯Â¿Â½s image somehow, then presumably so are all the other species, and thereÃ¯Â¿Â½s nothing special about us at all.
This is the first time that I have ever heard anyone claim that being made in God's image implies that humans are a finished product. Few human beings have ever claimed it of themselves.
DeWolf. David K., (law prof) and Randall Wegner (lawyer), "The ACLU has a variety of clever arguments as to why it is a "civil liberty" to exclude any competing theory. It claims that anything other than Darwinism is not science and that the only alternative to Darwin's theory is a "supernatural creator" who can't be investigated scientifically. This is plainly false. The scientists who have questioned Darwinian evolutionary theory point to scientific evidence (the fossil record, the digital information content in DNA, the engineering structure in cells) and use scientific reasoning to explain that design is the most likely cause." (Note: This link is provided because the original Philly Inquirer op-ed may no longer be on line.)
provides a useful distinction in Slate between creationism and intelligent design hypotheses. "Intelligent Design adherents believe only that the complexity of the natural world could not have occurred by chance. Some intelligent entity must have created the complexity, they reason, but that "designer" could in theory be anything or anyone." (Note: Yeah, of course, but then how can Hollywood make a big conspirafantasy about ID if that's all it is? And so many elite types so much need a big conspiracy that explains why no one believes materialism. Will they now invent a vast conspiracy to believe in? That Engber guy was pretty quickly drowned out.)
Dworkin, Ronald offers three questions to America in the New York Review of Books, and one of them concerns the dangers of allowing students to know that Darwin may be doubted in science classes:
If we are to protect dignity by protecting people's responsibility for their own personal values, then we must build our compulsory education and our collective endorsements of truth around the distinction between faith and reason. We need a defensible conception of science not only for the intensely practical reason that we must prepare our children and youth to advance knowledge and to compete in the world's economy but also in order to protect the personal responsibility of our citizens each for his own religious faith. We need an account of science, in our public philosophy of government, that does not make its authority depend on commitment to any set of religious or ethical values. So Senator Frist made a serious mistake when he said that describing intelligent design only as a scientific alternative to evolution doesn't "force any particular theory on anyone." In fact it damages young students, practically and politically, by using the state's authority to force on them a false and disabling view of what science is.
Insufferability award?: Here's a strong entry
Of the Darwinists, he says,
So insecure are the Darwinists that the Kansas State Board of Education's rather sensible decision to introduce materials into the curriculum critical of the theory of evolution, which, in the board's own words, "do not include Intelligent Design," became a target of attack. "We're becoming a laughingstock," board member Janet Waugh lamented, "not only of the nation but of the world." The Washington Post, the Seattle Times, and other news outlets incorrectly reported that the Kansas board mandated the teaching of Intelligent Design, which it clearly and explicitly does not. "Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution," the board states, "the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory." In other words, the board mandates teaching evolution but does not mandate teaching Intelligent Design. Any number of news reports lead readers to believe the opposite.
As for the ID guys, he says,
The universe may have been designed by a Supreme Intelligence, but there is no scientific evidence saying this is so. Forget the damage done to science in Intelligent Design's name. By holding matters of faith to scientific standards, Intelligent Design stands to erode belief.
He ends with
Supporters of Intelligent Design demote faith to science. Darwinists elevate science to faith. Both camps would be best served by staying within their own realm.
Flynn makes quite clear that he thinks that science is about facts and intelligent design is about high-minded but unsupported nonsense. But - in the polite way that befits a man who avoids giving offense to the dear little pious tea grannies - he wants us to know that faith would merely be demoted if it enjoyed any support from facts at all.
Such insufferable smugness about the very nature of the universe and its knowability! - and, worse luck, all in defense of a merely silly idea like neo-Darwinism
Franke, Greg wants to inject some common sense into the debate. "According to Casey Luskin, Public Policy spokesman for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which is seeking to establish the right of teachers to question Evolutionary theory, the question isn't whether it would have been advantageous for man to develop the ability to reason -- of course it would have. The real question is whether mutations are capable of producing this. "This certainly seems to strain Darwin's theory. It appears that something else has to be added to the equation to explain human complexity."
Graff, Gerald thinks the controversy should be taught - in order to discredit ID. Of interest is the fact that he coined the term "teach the controversy." Here's a great quote: "Teachers can act as if their studentsÃ¯Â¿Â½ doubts about evolution don't exist, but pretending that your students share your beliefs when you know they don't is a notorious prescription for bad teaching."
Humes, Edward In "Unintelligent Designs on Darwin" (February 28, 2007), Humes reassures every middle American who does not want to think that the intelligent design controversy is based on anything that could possibly matter:
But real evolution isn't random; it doesn't say man came from monkeys. Those claims are made up by critics to get people riled up -- paving the way for pleasing alternatives such as intelligent design.
Real evolution - if by that we mean Darwinian evolution - insists that man came from creatures more primitive than monkeys, by a process of natural selection acting on random mutations, not by any divine providence. Now the real evolutionist, so to speak, is either right or wrong about that, but the claim was not invented by critics.
Jacoby, Jeff muses on the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" moment when Darwinists attempted to ridicule ID theory by attributing all non-Darwinian mechanisms to a flying sphag-m. Jacoby comments, "In truth, intelligent design isn't a scientific theory but a restatement of a timeless argument: that the regularity and laws of the natural world imply a higher intelligence -- God, most people would say -- responsible for its design. Intelligent design doesn't argue that evidence of design ends all questions or disproves Darwin. It doesn't make a religious claim. It does say that when such evidence appears, researchers should take it into account, and that the weaknesses in Darwinian theory should be acknowledged as forthrightly as the strengths. That isn't primitivism or Bible-thumping or flying spaghetti. It's science."
Jenkins, Sally links ID and sports: "The sports section would not seem to be a place to discuss intelligent design, the notion that nature shows signs of an intrinsic intelligence too highly organized to be solely the product of evolution. It's an odd intersection, admittedly. You might ask, what's so intelligently designed about ballplayers (or sportswriters)? Jose Canseco once let a baseball hit him in the head and bounce over the fence for a home run. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte gave himself a concussion by running helmet-first into a wall in a fit of exuberance. But athletes also are explorers of the boundaries of physiology and neuroscience, and some intelligent design proponents therefore suggest they can be walking human laboratories for their theories." (Note: Hey, why not! If you win, you win, and whatever helps you to a fair win, well ... )
Kemmerer, Liz talks about the Knox College course examining the pros and cons of ID. Apparently, the classroom did not turn into a time machine that morphed everyone back to the Dark Ages, and still no one asked for their money back. Amazing! More amazing than the Amazing Randi.
Klinghoffer, David documents the anti-Christian sentiment that lies behind much promotion of Darwinism: "Other leading Darwinian advocates not only reject religion but profess disgust for it and frankly admit a wish to see it suppressed. Lately I've been collecting published thoughts on religion from pro-Darwin partisans. Professional scholars, they have remarkable things to say especially about Christianity. Let these disinterested seekers of the truth speak for themselves." (Note: Well, these particular "seekers of truth" sound about as disinterested as the fox who just happened to be in the henhouse in the dead of night. The problem is not with their opinion, but with their desire that it be seen as "science.") Also, Klinghoffer, David
You can't have both Darwin and
The key point is whether, across hundreds of millions of years, the development of life was guided or not. On one side of this chasm between worldviews are Darwinists, whose belief system asserts that life, through a material mechanism, in effect designed itself. On the other side are theories like intelligent design (ID) which argue that no such purely material mechanism could write the software in the cell, called DNA.
ID supporters find positive evidence of a designerÃ¯Â¿Â½s hand at work in lifeÃ¯Â¿Â½s history. The Discovery Institute, where IÃ¯Â¿Â½m a senior fellow, has compiled a list of more than 600 Darwin-doubting doctoral scientists representing institutions like Stanford, Yale, and MIT. The bibliography of Darwin-doubting works in peer-reviewed and peer-edited scientific publications continues to grow.
To put it starkly, Darwinism would put God out of business. GodÃ¯Â¿Â½s authority to command our behavior is based on His having created us. By this, I donÃ¯Â¿Â½t mean that He formed the first person from clay less than six thousand years ago, but that His guidance was necessary to produce the chief glory of the world, life. If the process that produced existence and then life was not guided, then God is not our creator.
Klinghoffer has some pointed things to say about Francis Collins' book, The Language of God, as well, including "sticky-sweet memories of how he accepted Jesus on a nature hike."
Krauthammer, Charles insists, for some reason, that the ID controversy can be explained as follows: "This conflict between faith and science had mercifully abated over the past four centuries as each grew to permit the other its own independent sphere. What we are witnessing now is a frontier violation by the forces of religion. This new attack claims that because there are gaps in evolution, they therefore must be filled by a divine intelligent designer." (Note: This is a wonderful column if you are looking for examples of someone just getting it wrong. They guy never once considers the possibility that there might actually be good arguments against Darwinism specifically, as opposed to evolution in general. Apparently, he just can't get it, and he represents a beautiful taxonomic illustration of the type. Also go here and here if you need more Krauthammer for whatever you are doing.)
Krauthammer, Charles also offers a cute play on words, riffing evoluton off intelligent design, to talk about endless campaigning in electoral politics. This column offers an interesting study on word use in the controversy (June 8, 2007):
WASHINGTON -- In Britain, Canada and other civilized places, national elections are often called, run and concluded within six weeks. In America, election campaigns go on forever. It used to be one year, now it's two. No one planned this, but like other evolutionary artifacts (the Founders applied intelligent design to the general makeup of the U.S. government but never foresaw formal political parties, let alone the endless campaign), this crazy improvisation embodies a certain wisdom.
Krugman argues that
The important thing to remember is that like supply-side economics or global-warming skepticism, intelligent design doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory. That, together with the political muscle of the religious right, may be enough to start a process that ends with banishing Darwin from the classroom.
And why is that the important thing to remember, Paul? Actually, the question is not about the "validity of evolutionary theory" but about the ability of Darwinism to do all that is claimed for it.
David Limbaugh argues in "Slamming intelligent design" that intelligent design is picking up steam, expressing wonder at "how much disinformation has been taught in our public schools, universities, and our culture in general on evolution." He argues that
the popular culture and the education establishment, while holding themselves out as guardians of science, fact, and even reality, often refuse to allow any scientific objections to evolution to be discussed in the classroom. They are the real censors and opponents of science, all in the name of promoting science. You really should look into this scandal if you haven't already, instead of just assuming the controversy is between superstitious anti-science Christians and enlightened, open-minded scientific academics.
Possibly, many people may simply not want to know if another of the popular icons of the twentieth century (Marx, Che, Freud) has gone bad. So much easier to stop one's ears and insist on teaching the materialist orthodoxy.
Limbaugh, David also identifies consensus science as the way scientists deal with contrary data that they do not want to acknowledge (May 4, 2007). The consensus is that there is no such data:
Tom Bethell, in his "Politically Incorrect Guide to Science," quotes author Michael Crichton as saying that consensus science "is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."
We are witnessing a similar phenomenon on the subject of evolution versus intelligent design. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins, explains Bethel, believes that evolution is not a debatable topic. "I'm concerned about implying that there is some sort of scientific argument going on," said Dawkins. "There's not." Meanwhile the Intelligent Design movement is gathering courageous and impressive adherents who would debate the notion that no debate is going on
Limbaugh, Rush Now, remember, this is Rush, not David. Rush claims that the ID folks aretouting Biblical creationism, which only shows that he needs ARN's course in the intelligent design controversy (but probably will not take the time to even audit it):
The people pushing intelligent design believe in the biblical version of creation. Intelligent design is a way, I think, to sneak it into the curriculum and make it less offensive to the liberals because it ostensibly does not involve religious overtones, that there is just some intelligent being far greater than anything any of us can even imagine that's responsible for all this, and of course I don't have any doubt of that. But I think that they're sort of pussyfooting around when they call it intelligent design.
Showers, Rush. The ID sympathizers include many traditional Christians and Jews but also secularists and atheists, and followers of Eastern religions. The only thing they all agree on is the intelligence of the design.
Manzari, Joe quotes John Scopes, of the Scopes trial, "John Scopes once said, "If you limit a teacher to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought.... I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory."
Mathews, Jay Jay Mathews asks in the Washington Post "Who's Afraid of Intelligent Design" (March 23, 2005), adding,
My favorite high school teacher, Al Ladendorff, conducted his American history class like an extended version of "Meet the Press." Nothing, not even the textbooks other teachers treated as Holy Writ, was safe from attack. I looked forward to that class every day.
My biology class, sadly, was another story. I slogged joylessly through all the phyla and the principles of Darwinism, memorizing as best as I could. It never occurred to me that this class could have been as interesting as history until I recently started to read about "intelligent design," the latest assault on the teaching of evolution in our schools. Many education experts and important scientists say we have to keep this religious-based nonsense out of the classroom. But is that really such a good idea?
Mathews, who covers schools for the Post, and is an admittedly devout Darwinist sees the obvious point, that iron sharpens iron - students benefit from exposure to differing points of view.
(Note: A delicious irony would be if students who are exposed to both the strengths and the weaknesses of Darwinism grasp it better than students who are simply proselytized to believe in it as the creation story of the school system.)
Melott, Adrian, L. on intelligent design as creationism in a
cheap tuxedo in Physics Today is a gold mine of marvelous nonsense, including "Fairness, open discussion, and democracy are core American values and often problematic. Unfortunately, journalists routinely present controversies where none exist, or they present political controversies as scientific controversies. Stories on conflicts gain readers, and advertising follows. This bias toward reporting conflicts, along with journalists' inability to evaluate scientific content and their unwillingness to do accuracy checks (with notable exceptions), are among the greatest challenges to the broad public understanding of science." Right. So any doubts raised by scientists or any failure on the part of the public to merely accept some folly folly burbled on behalf of Darwinism is due to the sheer incompetence of journalists, except of course for a few who presumably burble in tune. We can be fairly sure that "accuracy checks" in the context, are merely checks for being in line with the Darwinian orthodoxy of the moment.
Mohler, Al, St. Louis Baptist seminary prez, asks "What is it about even the slightest dissent from Darwin's theory of natural selection that drives liberal elites (and even some conservative elites) bonkers?" Adam Wolfson asks that question in "Survival of the Evolution Debate: Why Darwin Is Still a Lightning Rod," an essay published in the January 16, 2006 edition of The Weekly Standard." He suggests, "As Wolfson cleverly adapts H. L. Mencken, "Liberals are haunted by the specter that someone, somewhere harbors doubts about Darwin's theory." Note: See also Leon Wieseltier below for another Mohler comment. )
Mooney, Chris addresses the favorable polls for teaching ID in the schools, in an effort to show, t'ain't so. Well, 'tis so, and in any event, Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science comes with his own more-than-slightly overloaded portmanteau. By the way, here is a roundup of recent polls on ID-related subjects.
Moyers writes as though we donÃ¯Â¿Â½t know that arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins is an atheist who obsessively attacks religion and worries about the fact that most Americans doubt his view about evolution. In fact, Dawkins has spent so much time attacking religion that he has not had an original idea in biology for perhaps fifteen years.
Also, hereÃ¯Â¿Â½s a NOW show with Dawkins, where views other than Darwinism are equated with anti-intellectualism in American life. Commentators like Moyers are losinginfluence in the age of blogs and the Internet, because it is much harder today to keep people from access to information that challenges the commentatorÃ¯Â¿Â½s magisterial view.
Numbers, Ron In a Salon interview with Steve Paulson, historian Numbers makes some very interesting comments:
Numbers says much of what we think about anti-evolutionism is wrong. For one thing, it's hardly a monolithic movement. There are, in fact, fierce battles between creationists of different stripes. And the "creation scientists" who believe in a literal reading of the Bible have, in turn, little in common with the leaders of intelligent design. Numbers also dismisses the whole idea of warfare between science and religion going back to the scientific revolution. He argues this is a modern myth that serves both Christian fundamentalists and secular scientists.
He goes on to say that he is shocked by how much publicity the ID guys have got in the last fifteen years. Maybe it has something to do with a long-suppressed fact base ... ?
O'Reilly, Bill dismisses the current pop atheists:
the atheists will never get it. The universe and the earth is so complex, so incredibly detailed, that to believe an accidental evolutionary occurrence could have exclusively led to the nature/mankind situation we have now, is some stretch of the imagination. I mean, call me crazy, but the sun always comes up, while man oversleeps all the time.
So bless you, Richard Dawkins, and all the other non-believers. As long as they don't attack people of faith, I have no problem with them. As my eighth-grade teacher Sister Martin once said: "Faith is a gift."
But not everybody gets to open the box.
In point of fact, the current crop of atheists has not come up with anything new that is of any importance, and Darwinism is not helping them any either.
Padgett, Jeffrey argues in the Western Illinois University Courier that teaching both sides of the evolution controversy is a good idea:
In truth, I discovered that there is much good, hard scientific evidence supporting and denying the theory of intelligent design, just as there is much that supports and discounts the concept of evolution. The reason public schools do not teach us the theory of intelligent design in science classrooms is because they equate it to teaching religion, and of course we must keep church and state separate.
But if the state is in fact being unbiased, then shouldn't they present the scientific evidence for both sides? This is the only way to be fair, and it certainly isn't forcing a religion on anyone. What is the harm in teaching all of the evidence for evolution and for intelligent design?
Pafford, John M., an adjunct professor of history at Northwood University, Michigan, argues in the Midland Daily News for teaching about the evolution controversy:
What aggravates opponents is that scientists supporting intelligent design rejected Darwinian evolution and determined that the evidence points to a Creator. While it is true that creationism is taught in the Bible, scientists believing in it do study scientific data and scientifically examine the phenomena of the natural world.
Mr. Bufka's advocating the removal of creationism and intelligent design from being considered in public schools leaves Darwinian evolution as the state-established belief system, a serious error and denial of academic freedom. All three of them, creationism, intelligent design -- and Darwinian evolution -- should be taught with each individual free to accept whatever he or she chooses.
Peterson, Dan, an attorney who describes himself as "designed to live in Virginia," provides an entertaining and useful overview of the controversy, quoting from proponents and opponents of ID. In the latter camp is Franklin Harold who notes, "Thus, many scientists embracing naturalism find themselves in the seeming dilemma recently articulated by biochemist Franklin Harold: "We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity [i.e., Darwinian evolution]; but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations." (Note: And just why should we borf reason in order to protect Darwin? Tell me once again why wishful speculation is better.)
Powell, Michaelreports for the Washington Post on how ID advocates vow to continue despite Dover ruling: It is an engaging and reasonable account, quoting, for example, Michael Behe: "It was a real disappointment," biochemist Michael J. Behe, who testified in the trial, said from his office at Lehigh University. "It's hard to say this chills the atmosphere, because if you're publicly known as an ID supporter you can already kiss your tenure chances goodbye. It doesn't help."
Reed, Fred Fred, who plans to devolve because bacteria are more respectable, laments "Why, oh why, are the curricula of the schools the business of the courts? If Pennsylvania wants to mention Creationism, or to require three years of French for graduation, it seems mightily to me that these things are the business of parents in Pennslyvania. Yes, I know: In practice, both freedom of expression and local government are regarded as ideals greatly to be avoided. The desire to centralize government, impose doctrine, and punish doubt is never far below the surface, anywhere." (Note: No indeed. The fascinating aspect of the intelligent design controversy is the inability of the Darwinists to se that they are attempting to impose a religion that explains origins as the outcome of purposeless events, in the teeth of a public that simply does not believe that.)
Safire, William is a useful consult on the origin of the phrase "intelligent design."
opines regarding ID that "It's too bad liberals and scientists don't welcome this test. It's too bad they go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously. It's too bad they think good science consists of believing the right things. In the long view-the evolutionary view-good science consists of using evidence and experiment to find out whether what we thought was right is wrong. If they do that in Kansas, by whatever name, that's all that matters." (Note: Saletan assumes that in any fair fight Darwinism would triumph. The trouble is, he hasn't spent as much time as I have kicking around the walls so he doesn't see that Darwinism has huge unpaid debts, as David Stove noted in Darwinian Fairytales.. Here I go plugging Stove again, but he really is worth the read.)
Conservative columnist Phyllis Schlafly
Liberals see the political value to teaching evolution in school, as it makes teachers and children think they are no more special than animals. Childhood joy and ambition can turn into depression as children learn to reject that they were created in the image of God.
It sounds a bit over the top, and I so much want to dismiss it. But when I read what key Darwinists actually think, and what they do in the school system, it is quite clear that a philosophy is involved, one that is at odds with the philosophy of most parents. Clearly, it never was about the science; it was about imposing a philosophy on the school system.
Snow, Tony Snow wants to know why we can't have a rational debate. "Evolutionary theory, like ID, isn't verifiable or testable. It's pure hypothesis -- like ID -- although very popular in the scientific community. Its limits help illuminate the fact that hypotheses are only as durable as the evidence that supports them. ID is useful largely because it punctures the myth of scientific invincibility, while providing a basis for promoting the cause of "hard" science. Sure, science involves trial and error. Scientists refine theories each day. But as they do, they help us grasp more clearly the wonders of the world and the universe." (Note: Fair enough all, but Darwinism is about materialist philosophy, not science. That is why it can never be wrong and can explain absolutely everything, Tony. Didn't you know?)
Snow is as of April 2006 White House Press Secretary.
Springsteen, Bruce "We believe in evolution - it's our only"hope" from "Part Man, Part Monkey." (Aw, Brucie baby, cut the rot. It's been a long, long time since dumb evolution had much to do with human affairs. We violate evolution every day. Every time we create a better crop plant or save a life through medical care or irrigate a desert, we are violating evolution. The reason we do that, ahem, is that evolution as such doesn't offer any hope at all. That's why we got rid of it.)
Rodney Stark, sociologist and author of For the Glory of God, confronts (One America, September 2004) in "Fact, Fable, and Darwin" the main reason for the ongoing ridiculous adulation of Darwin. Despite being nearly two years old, it is still worth reading:
I write as neither a creationist nor a Darwinist, but as one who knows what is probably the most disreputable scientific secret of the past century: There is no plausible scientific theory of the origin of species! Darwin himself was not sure he had produced one, and for many decades every competent evolutionary biologist has known that he did not. Although the experts have kept quiet when true believers have sworn in court and before legislative bodies that Darwin's theory is proven beyond any possible doubt, that's not what reputable biologists, including committed Darwinians, have been saying to one another.
There is much interesting material here, both about motives:
Without question, Charles Darwin would be among the most prominent biologists in history even if he hadn't written The Origin of Species in 1859. But he would not have been deified in the campaign to "enlighten" humanity. The battle over evolution is not an example of how heroic scientists have withstood the relentless persecution of religious fanatics. Rather, from the very start it primarily has been an attack on religion by militant atheists who wrap themselves in the mantle of science.
and the state of the evidence:
According to Steven Stanley, another distinguished evolutionist, doubts raised by the fossil record were "suppressed" for years. Stanley noted that this too was a tactic begun by Huxley, always careful not to reveal his own serious misgivings in public. Paleontologist Niles Eldridge and his colleagues have said that the history of life demonstrates gradual transformations of species, "all the while really knowing that it does not." This is not how science is conducted; it is how ideological crusades are run.
Thomas, Cal and Bob Bekelis
Cal Thomas asks, "'Intelligent design': What do scientists fear?", and continues,
What I find curious about this debate, not only in Pennsylvania, but in Kansas and throughout the country, is that so many scientists and educators are behaving like fundamentalist secularists. Only they will define science. They alone will decide which scientific theories and information will be taught to students. That sounds like mind control to me, Bob. If their science is so strong on the issue of origins, why not let the arguments supporting intelligent design into the classroom where it can be debunked if it can't be defended?
Well, Cal, and Bob, ... let's start with the fact that there is no good, firm theory of the origin of life ... and go from there. Maybe there will be one someday. but why pretend there is one now?
Turner, J. Scott wonders why we can't discuss intelligent design. In an interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he recalls using words that Darwinism forbids at a public meeting:
I think what stirred up the heckler had something to do with the word "design." Unless clearly linked to the process of natural selection, "design" can be a bit of a red flag for modern biologists. The reason is not hard to fathom. Most people, when they contemplate the living world, get an overwhelming sense that it is a designed place, replete with marvelous and ingenious contrivances: the beak of a hummingbird curved like the nectaries it feeds from, bones shaped to the loads they must bear, feathers that could teach new tricks to an aeronautical engineer, the nearly unfathomable complexity of a brain that can see Ã¢â‚¬â€ all built as if someone had designed them.
[ ... ]
Charles Darwin was supposed to have put paid to that idea, of course, and ever since his day biologists have considered it gauche to speak of design, or even to hint at purposefulness in nature. Doing so in polite company usually earns you what I call The Pause, the awkward silence that typically follows a faux pas.
I wonder if Turner will ever do anything as scary as this again.
Weisberg, Jacob In Evolution vs. Religion: Quit pretending they're compatible", Weisberg says bluntly, "So, what should evolutionists and their supporters say to parents who don't want their children to become atheists and who may even hold firm to the virgin birth and the parting of the Red Sea? That it's time for them to finally let go of their quaint superstitions? That Darwinists aren't trying to push people away from religion but recognize that teaching their views does tend to have that effect? Dennett notes that Darwin himself avoided exploring the issue of the ultimate origins of life in part to avoid upsetting his wife Emma's religious beliefs."
(Note: It is clearly not true that Darwinism is devoid of a religious agenda, despite the claims of timid, well-meaning bureaucrats and clergy, anxious not to "cause any fuss." )
Westneat, Danny reports on a guy who is one the list of Discovery's then 400 (but now over 500) scientists who doubt Darwinism for scientific reasons but thinks he
shouldn't be. Westneat explains, "Davidson began to believe the institute is an "elaborate, clever marketing program" to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design - the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed - and found them lacking in scientific merit." (Note: I can't find Davidson's name on the list, which does not appear to be sorted in complete lpha order, so presumably he sensibly asked to have it removed. I wonder if Westneat will write on the growth of the list since then.)
Wieseltier, Leon, literary editor of The New Republic, "Intelligent design is an expression of sentiment, not an exercise of reason. It is a psalm, not a proof." This is a wonderful exercise in literary swank and condescension. Apparently, it doesn't matter whether Darwinism is an accurate account of evolution; everything comes down to motive and the Crawford pomo, and the fact that they are sophisticated but we are, um, not. Interestingly, the same edition of the mag features several other attacks on ID. Clearly, the editors are in a panic about something or other, as Louisville Baptist seminary prez Albert Mohlernotes. Hmmmm.
Will, George Will claims that intelligent design is unfalsifiable, despite ongoing efforts to falsify it. Elsewhere, he notes, regarding recent disasters, "Earth, that living, seething, often inhospitable and not altogether intelligently designed thing, has again shrugged, and tens of thousands of Pakistanis are dead. That earthquake struck 10 months after an undersea quake caused the December 2004 tsunami that killed 285,000 in Asia. Americans reeling from Hurricane Katrina, and warned of scores of millions of potential deaths from avian flu, have a vague feeling - never mind the disturbing rest of the news - of pervasive menace from things out of control."
(Note: There is an underlying theme in the latter column, which begins with musings on intelligent design. It seems that Will's main beef is out-of-control events in nature. On the whole, I think it is a good thing that he is asking the questions in relation to whether there is evidence of intelligent design in nature. If you don't think the ID guys are making progress in getting key questions before the public, consider how the issues raised by earthquakes would have been dealt with fifteen years ago:
- THOSE people have too many kids (and therefore set themselves and us up for disaster) - sometimes expressed in a more pompous way as "Man is a species that has overbred."
- This proves that there isn't such a thing as the right to live!
So if the ID guys have done nothing else, they have refocused debate away from the enormous vulgarities of materialist ideas and toward timeless dilemmas. - Denyse)
"March of the Penguins" raises this question: If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins? The movie documents the 70-mile march of thousands of Antarctic penguins from the sea to an icy breeding place barren of nutrition. These perhaps intelligently but certainly oddly designed birds march because they cannot fly. They cannot even march well, being most at home in the sea.
[ ... ]
The penguins' hardiness is remarkable, as is the intricate choreography of the march, the breeding and the nurturing. But the movie, vigorously anthropomorphizing the birds, invites us to find all this inexplicably amazing, even heroic. But the penguins are made for that behavior in that place. What made them? Adaptive evolution. They have been "designed" for all that rigor -- meaning they have been shaped by adapting to many millennia of nature's harshness.
Will raises some interesting questions here. The penguins probably could not in fact live in warmer climates, in which case their unusual adaptations are an alternative to going extinct, as 99 percent of all the creatures that have ever lived on Earth have done. The reason the film causes people to discuss intelligent design is precisely the difficulty of seeing how the penguin's behaviour could evolve through simple, random Darwinian steps. But as for anthropomorphism (talking about animals as though they had emotions like those of humans), well, it is an interesting criticism. Darwinists generally talk about humans as though they were animals. The narrator in this case is reacting to the evidence of the penguins' behavior, and avoiding the refuge of sophistries such as they're "just birds," offered by a studio exec .
Wills, Gary displays in "A Country Ruled by Faith" in The New York Review of Books (November 16, 2006) a touching faith in materialist consensus in science:
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush said that "the jury is still out" on the merits of Darwinism. That is true only if the jury is not made up of reputable scientists. Bush meant to place religious figures on the jury, to decide a scientific question. As president, he urged that schools teach "intelligent design" along with DarwinismÃ¢â‚¬â€that is, teach religion alongside science in science classes. Gary Bauer, like other evangelicals, was delighted when the President said that. Bush's endorsement proves, Bauer observed, that intelligent design "is not some backwater view." An executive at the Discovery Institute, which supports intelligent design, chimed in: "President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution." By that logic, teaching flat-earthism, or the Ptolemaic system alongside the Copernican system, is a defense of "free speech."
Well, teaching consensus is fine if it is backed by evidence, but what if the evidence forthe consensus is weak and the reason why it is a consensus is mainly ideological?
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the
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