What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 21, 2011

Oh, God. Not AGAIN

From the AP:
The debate over teaching evolution in public schools is resurfacing at the Texas State Board of Education.

The board is meeting to consider supplemental science materials for the upcoming school year and beyond. The Republican-dominated board drew national attention in 2009 when it adopted science standards encouraging schools to scrutinize “all sides” of scientific theory.

A public hearing on the new science materials is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The board is under the new leadership of Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, a former biology teacher who disputes the theory of evolution. She is considered to be one of the panel’s more conservative members.

Cargill was appointed earlier this month by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
The same Rick Perry that asked Texans to pray for the end of the drought.

But what are these "supplemental science materials" they mention? The AP from yesterday:
An intense fight over evolution and intelligent design theory in science curriculum put a national spotlight on the 15-member elected board in 2009 when it adopted standards that encourage public schools to scrutinize "all sides" of scientific theory.
The board is now considering supplemental online instructional materials that fit under those standards and could be used as early as August when classes resume. The new materials are necessary because the state could not afford to buy new textbooks this year, leaving students to use some that are several years old.
The supplement materials submitted for consideration include a high school biology e-book that promotes intelligent design despite federal court rulings against teaching the theory that life on Earth is so complex that it must have come from an intelligent higher power.
So we're talking "intelligent design" as opposed to "young earth" creationism.

Whew. That's such a relief.

Still isn't science, of course. And here's why. In his Summa Totius Logicae, medieval philosopher William of Occam wrote:
Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora
Which translates into English as:
It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.
Basically it means "don't try to explain mysteries by imposing other mysteries." Philosophically, it's what's known as "lex parsimoniae" but that's not important.

What is important that once you impose the "intelligent designer" onto the science, you've effectively left the world of science.

Can't explain what eyebrows do? It's what the designer intended. How about what earthquakes are for? The comparative weight of neutrons to protons to electrons? Why the earth is in exactly the proper orbit for us pesky hu-mans to live? Designer, designer, and...designer. But wait:
  • Who is this designer?
  • Where is this designer?
  • Why did this designer chose one design path over another?
  • When did this designer design?
  • How do we resolve any of these questions?
See what just happened? Now we've got a whole new set of questions that can't be answered by empirical science because the concept of "the designer" is, by definition, metaphysical (ie it is "beyond" physics).

As Judge Jones (a sane Republican, by the way)pointed out in his decision Kitzmiller v Dover, the religious nature of Intelligent design is obvious and that:
We initially note that John Haught, a theologian who testified as an expert witness for Plaintiffs and who has written extensively on the subject of evolution and religion, succinctly explained to the Court that the argument for ID is not a new scientific argument, but is rather an old religious argument for the existence of God. He traced this argument back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, who framed the argument as a syllogism: Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer. (Trial Tr. vol. 9, Haught Test., 7-8, Sept. 30, 2005). Dr. Haught testified that Aquinas was explicit that this intelligent designer “everyone understands to be God.” Id. The syllogism described by Dr. Haught is essentially the same argument for ID as presented by defense expert witnesses Professors Behe and Minnich who employ the phrase “purposeful arrangement of parts.”
I know Rick Perry's flirted with secession a few months ago but Texas is still a part of the Union, right? The Constitution is still the Law of the Land in Texas, right? They still have to abide by the 1st Amendment, right?

You wouldn't know it by this ID argument.

Those who are seeking to impose Intelligent Design in the public school curriculum are attempting nothing more than to inject religion into the curriculum. In doing so they are undermining the education of the very students they're supposed to be supporting.

I've said it before. If we are a nation in decline, one of the reasons is this willfull stubborn religiously inspired anti-intellectual retreat from science.

1 comment:

Leighton (Lee) Scott said...

Great post - Well summarized.
See my similar article at www.d-dayblog.blogspot.com, the leading progressive blog for Pennsylvania.