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← Should ID be taught as science? Michael Behe vs. Stephen Barr

Should ID be taught as science? Michael Behe vs. Stephen Barr - Comments

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 1 by Jos Gibbons

We already have very clear criteria for which ideas should be on science syllabuses. First they must be submitted to journals, then they must pass peer review and be published, then they must stand up to others' scrutiny, then other studies must replicate their findings, then the claim must become the scientific consensus, then scientists must inform educators of this. ID has never achieved a single one of these steps; in fact, it hasn't even tried. They have never once tried submitting their work to a journal which uses peer review. Sometimes they pretend their own vanity presses count as "peer review" because fellow IDists said "Yeah, that's all right". But peer review involves multiple anonymous experts in the field reading the report and confirming its empirical and analytical techniques are described in enough detail they can see they didn't contain glaring errors.

Thu, 19 May 2011 07:18:08 UTC | #628306

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 2 by Premiseless

I think Darwins , and Dawkins representations of him, are far more lucid representations of our existence here on Earth and of far greater value to any individual - helping innoculate and strengthen the mind against the many dissonances stored up in a world so concentrated with harmful delusions.

ID cauterizes thinking to a harmful degree and foists age old wars of the mind and fears about the unknown against similar mutations of ideological thinking, which would war to have their deluded woo become dominant. It inhibits the emotional-intellectual marriage of a healthy human life!

Definitely my £10 is on Dawkins every time!

Thu, 19 May 2011 08:41:12 UTC | #628329

C.Wood's Avatar Comment 3 by C.Wood

The thing is all the evidence points AGAINST ID. As such, it does not belong in the science class. Teaching it in any other class would be wrong too, because it is completely devoid of truthfulness. It is nothing more than a mere curiosity. At most, it could be "taught" (as in, spoken of) in history class, where it belongs, right next to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and all other ancient civilizations and their myths.

I wouldn't be against, however, a special class about "culture". Not one specific culture, but the sum of all cultures who ever were. Then again... isn't that what History is about?

Finally, what is the "philosophical hypothesis of atheism"?? Replacing "atheism" for "the ones who say there are is no evidence for any deities", I fail to understand what a philosophical hypothesis that might be. In fact, it's a straightforward argument. Either there is evidence, and that can be demonstrated, or there is no evidence, and as such believing in a deity is believing without any good evidence.

So at most, I would say it is healthy not to take anything for granted without checking the facts. And that does seem to be something useful and worthy of being taught. Be critical. Don't just "believe" what you're told, learn for yourself and figure things out. A worthy advice to give to anyone, isn't it?

Thu, 19 May 2011 08:49:26 UTC | #628334

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 4 by TheRationalizer

Whether unguided random mutation + non random selection OR intelligent design is true should be decided by people with years of university education on the facts and then taught in classrooms. It should not be decided by 11-16 year old children any more than 11-16 year old children such legislate law or manage a country's economy (even though sometimes it might seem like this is already happening.)

Thu, 19 May 2011 08:53:39 UTC | #628335

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 5 by bachfiend

Intelligent Design should be taught in a science class when astrology is taught together with astronomy and alchemy taught together with chemistry.

Michael Behe admitted in his testimony in the Dover trial that his definition of science that would make ID science would also make astrology and alchemy science too.

Thu, 19 May 2011 09:49:15 UTC | #628358

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 6 by Stevehill

ID is not science. Its proponents have never published any research in support of their theories. Probably because they know it will not stand up to scrutiny.

It is, simply, a fad.

With the ulterior motive of subverting America's ban on religion in schools, and getting some anti-evolution, pro-Creation teaching into the curriculum.

This wholly political agenda is unfortunately well-funded, and too many people who shamefully call themselves scientists have taken the dollars on offer to say what they've been told to say.

Frankly, all these lying charlatans do for me is lower the respect I have for Christianity as a whole. Which may be unfair, but there you go.

Can the Pope not excommunicate Behe for, effectively, preaching against accepted Catholic dogma?!

Thu, 19 May 2011 09:57:53 UTC | #628364

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 7 by AsylumWarden

Can we teach a “philosophy free” science class?

Technically, yes, because that is what Science is. It is not let-wing or right, libertarian or authoritarian, maxist, capiltalist, solopsist, exitentialist or anything like that.

Science just 'is'. There is no philosphy behind gravity. Two bodies of mass attract each other, on Earth that means dropped object fall to the floor. It is as simple as that. Same with evolution. Living beings on this planet have and do evolve, and that's that! ID is a philosophy and therefore has no place in a science class until it is proven (note to Behe and other IDiots: God of the Gaps doesn't count as proof). If people want to debate it outside the class, then that's their choice.

Thu, 19 May 2011 10:14:28 UTC | #628376

Teknical's Avatar Comment 8 by Teknical

Why don't they teach 'Evolutionary Design?'

Thu, 19 May 2011 10:22:58 UTC | #628380

C.Wood's Avatar Comment 9 by C.Wood

Comment 8 by Teknical :

Why don't they teach 'Evolutionary Design?'

They teach Evolution. The "design" part is sort of lacking evidence. Unless you mean "natural, technically not designed" design...

Thu, 19 May 2011 10:38:18 UTC | #628383

snail-12's Avatar Comment 10 by snail-12

Perhaps I.D. should be taught in the science class, not as a valid alternitive theory, but as an example of a hypothesis that has been shown by science to be flawed. It is a useful demonstration of how different ideas about the origin of life have been put to the test, evidence collected and the most parsimonious hypothisis(evolution by natural selection) adopted by scientific consensus and the hypothises that failed (I.D. etc) were rejected. Once it has been widely accepted it is constantly tested criticised and adapted by successive generations of scientists making the theory more and more accurate. Not only can this be a good lesson in how science progresses it may also immunise young minds against religious mind viruses by exposing them to the agument in an environment where reason and evidence are rightly valued. One of my concerns is that by excluding I.D. from the science classroom but allowing it to be taught in R.E. is that pupils might not be able to distinguish the difference, especially if taught by someone who believes in I.D. Religious educators will be able to teach I.D. in an unbalanced way claiming that it is R.E. and nothing to do with science.

Thu, 19 May 2011 10:49:43 UTC | #628386

C.Wood's Avatar Comment 11 by C.Wood

Good point, snail-12.

I remember talking about spontaneous generation as an exemple of a flawed theory for the origin of life. I guess "ID" can have the same treatment. But then again, ID is not a scientific theory at all, whilst spontaneous generation was. Can't really decide yet.

Thu, 19 May 2011 11:16:24 UTC | #628394

Phen's Avatar Comment 12 by Phen

If ID was considered a scientific hypothesis, it would very quickly be dismissed as the ludicrous garbage that it is. It's even unreasonable to call ID a theory, since it's just creationism in a balaclava. Maybe natural selection should be thaught in religious classrooms?

Thu, 19 May 2011 11:29:18 UTC | #628396

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 13 by SaganTheCat

if they're both catholics why debate? just ask the pope

the catholic church apparently has an opinion (darwinian evolution is ok as long as you accept goddidit) and it should come clean. ID is in opposition to natural selection. it is not supported by scientific observation so has no place in the classroom other than a nod to it in RE studies.

So, the question i find more of a debate issue is how can the one true church, headed by god's infallible representative on earth justify such a debate when they should be able to give an official answer and damn everyone to hell who doesn't like it (until a new infallible representative gets an update from god)?

Thu, 19 May 2011 12:06:00 UTC | #628412

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 14 by crookedshoes

ID can NOT be taught in a science classroom. I side with Barr. Atheism should also stay out of the science classroom. (How do you teach atheism anyway?)

Imagine going into a math class and learning adverbs. That is what teaching ID in a science room would be. "Okay class, today's SCIENCE lesson is bullshit."

I have a better (or at least different) question:

Should intelligent design even be mentioned n the science classroom? Forget about devoting a unit to it....should it garner a mention?

Thu, 19 May 2011 13:59:50 UTC | #628441

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 15 by Premiseless

ID should be taught as that aspect of what is seen that makes premise based upon lack of knowledge. Then evolution should be expressed as the ways in which probabilities influence outcomes in the same way they do winners in a lottery - there is no guidance to whom takes what - it is cumulative chances for success being played out for all to see. Then there ought to be some holistic aspect to education which considers why it is humans feel in ways which defy the knowledge they posses or learn. Education ought to include an empirical perspective on what it is to be humans , how emotions apply in different situations and too how they ought not to apply to situations where knowledge has advanced a clearer picture of what we are all part of.

I think this is the part that leads to dissonance and split-mind theories, that science is too often just taught as an add on to life and not the inclusive essential about how to 'learn to think' about most things in the world we are in.

So I go further with science and say its methods ought to be networked for its empirical value and thought processing beyond just science and into life in general, in order to help distinguish reason from opinion - as often as it is fed to the individual as a confusion of the two!

Thu, 19 May 2011 14:17:21 UTC | #628446

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 16 by crookedshoes

Premiseless,

What you express in your post is what I (and so many people here on Dawkins) am about. Logic and reason trumps all and should be pervasive in people's lives. Science is not a subject to be put away when the class is over, but rather, a treasure that should have the top spot in governing our decisions and, really, our lives.

Thu, 19 May 2011 14:23:56 UTC | #628447

helena!'s Avatar Comment 17 by helena!

In April, 2010 these two Catholics debated whether or not intelligent design should be taught as science (not just “in science classrooms”). I find it a very interesting and novel debate, since we often here the debates of “atheists vs. theists” but rarely do we here the “theists vs. theists” on this issue.

Do you mean hear? Quite a serious typo I that I couldn't read past it.

Thu, 19 May 2011 14:31:26 UTC | #628448

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 18 by Nordic11

Barr rejects Behe’s thesis entirely: ID is a philosophical judgment based on the data of science, and as such it does not belong in the science classroom. Science is about the examination of natural causes in the world; it is not the forum for larger, philosophical questions about the nature of reality.

As a theist and science teacher, I have been following the ID movement for quite some time and have read many of their books. I completely agree with Barr's evaluation. ID is a philosophy (with some very helpful premises for believers built upon Paley's original watch analogy in 1804), but it is not a scientific theory. ID proponents want to discredit evolution, but they do not conduct their own scientific research to build scientific hypotheses. I think they make some interesting arguments against evolution, but to replace a scientific paradigm, you must construct a more acceptable one, and their arguments are philosophical at their core.

The members of this site might be surprised how many scientifically oriented believers share my opinion.

And, if you agree, would you be willing to say the same thing about the philosophical hypothesis of atheism—should it also be excluded from the science classroom?

I believe that neither creationism nor naturalism should be taught in the science classroom, just as Christianity, Buddhism and atheism do not belong in a secular science classroom. All these beliefs should be welcomed in a philosophy class.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:07:28 UTC | #628460

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 19 by Nordic11

@stevehill

Frankly, all these lying charlatans do for me is lower the respect I have for Christianity as a whole. Which may be unfair, but there you go.

I think your are being totally fair, and this is the greatest shame about this type of behavior. American Christians continue to diminish our own faith by using these types of methods. I apologize for those in my own faith who are obsessed with pushing a political agenda instead of a spiritual one.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:13:20 UTC | #628462

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 20 by Schrodinger's Cat

Should ID be taught as science?

Science should be taught as science. If it's not science, then it shouldn't be taught as science. There's more scientific evidence for fairies at the bottom of my garden than there is for ID.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:14:58 UTC | #628463

BJohn's Avatar Comment 21 by BJohn

Comment 13 by Daniel Clear :

if they're both catholics why debate? ... So, the question i find more of a debate issue is how can the one true church, headed by god's infallible representative on earth justify such a debate when they should be able to give an official answer and damn everyone to hell who doesn't like it (until a new infallible representative gets an update from god)?

Daniel, I think your post represents a very common misunderstanding of the Catholic Church. The pope is not understood by Catholics to be some sort of special telephone, where we can simply “call up” to God and get his opinion on a controversial topic. The exercise of papal infallibility takes place under very precise conditions and about matters limited to the Church’s teaching on faith and morals. These conditions have been outlined by theologians after reflection on the nature of Christian revelation and its implications.

Moreover, according to the Catholic Church’s International Theological Commission, which published a document in 2002 touching on this very issue, which was approved by the then head of the commission, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), it is not the place of the Church (and therefore the Pope) to pronounce on this issue. The scientific merits of ID fall outside the jurisdiction of theology. This may surprise you, but the Catholic Church does not consider it a threat to God’s role as creator if we acknowledge a true contingency in the development of the universe. The data of science reveals that the origin of species was a highly contingent process—for example, a disease or natural disaster could have hypothetically occurred which destroyed the hominid population from which human beings evolved. The Commission is stating that such contingency is no threat to the Church’s teaching that a transcendent God designed and created the universe.

I think you, and many others who have responded, will find interesting what they said. You may not be satisfied with their argument for their position; in that case I would only call your attention to the fact that the commission is not here defending their position so much as expressing it (this is only an ancillary point of the document, which is actually about another topic).

Blockquote “The current scientific debate about the mechanisms at work in evolution requires theological comment insofar as it sometimes implies a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. Many neo-Darwinian scientists, as well as some of their critics [here I think the Commission has people like Dr. Behe in mind], have concluded that, if evolution is a radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation, then there can be no place in it for divine providential causality. A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles....It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).”

The full text can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20040723_communion-stewardship_en.html

This is relevant to the issue because if the Commission is right (and I believe they are), then it means that the data of science is, at the very least, philosophically neutral. The data does not support the inference of atheism and “absolute unguidedness” no more than it supports the theory of ID, which is a theory that postulates an “engineer God” who comes down to “manually” knock some molecules around to produce a desired effect.

I ask again, can we have a philosophically neutral science class? Do you agree that the data of science does not lead inevitably to conclusions of atheism and “absolute unguideness”? If you don’t agree, what about evolution makes you think there is no God?

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:15:38 UTC | #628465

BJohn's Avatar Comment 22 by BJohn

Yes, helena, that was a typo (there were at least two or three others). Thanks for clarifying; I hope that they don't cause you too much trouble.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:23:50 UTC | #628469

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 23 by Schrodinger's Cat

Can we teach a “philosophy free” science class? Can we simply examine the mechanisms of the natural world, and leave out our inferences about the ultimate nature of reality?

Education should be about teaching people what is factual, along with the methodology of rational thinking and enquiry. Armed with that, you don't then need to teach people every conceivable philosophy or speculation as they've been given precisely the tools to work it out for themselves.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:26:29 UTC | #628470

C.Wood's Avatar Comment 24 by C.Wood

Comment 18 by Nordic11 :

And, if you agree, would you be willing to say the same thing about the philosophical hypothesis of atheism—should it also be excluded from the science classroom?

I believe that neither creationism nor naturalism should be taught in the science classroom, just as Christianity, Buddhism and atheism do not belong in a secular science classroom. All these beliefs should be welcomed in a philosophy class.

Atheism is not a belief, a way of life, or a philosophy. Naturalism is not directly related to atheism. Being an atheist means "one who does not accept deities have been proven to exist". Have they? Can they prove any god or gods exist?

This confusion kind of annoys me, excuse me for being so blunt.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:33:33 UTC | #628472

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 25 by crookedshoes

According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1).

I'd like to think that I read at a pretty high level. I have read this quote at least a dozen times and still cannot make it make any sense whatsoever. It seems like a really long explanation of the phrase "shit happens" or perhaps "It is what it is".

Now, it could be that I am not used to reading theology. It could be that the words are not in my lexicon. It could be that it it too smart for me. It could be lots of things, but mostly it is because it is a whole lot of verbiage that says nothing.

BJohn, would you be so kind as to help me here (or hear)? What is the good St. Thomas saying?

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:51:15 UTC | #628478

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 26 by Nordic11

@crookedshoes

Should intelligent design even be mentioned n the science classroom? Forget about devoting a unit to it....should it garner a mention?

This is actually an interesting question. I teach middle school students, and they have questions about everything. In our local public schools, if a question about ID or atheism or creationism came up, most teachers would say "separation of church and state" and not answer, but I believe teachers should have the latitude to briefly explain basic philosophical positions when they come up. By doing so, they are not teaching them; they are just clarifying how certain philosophies might fit within the context of a science class.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:51:21 UTC | #628479

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 27 by Nordic11

@C.Wood

Atheism is not a belief, a way of life, or a philosophy.

Then what is atheism. I thought it was the belief that no supernatural deities or phenomena exist.

I guess my thinking is that atheist are by default naturalists. I was not thinking they are the same thing.

This confusion kind of annoys me, excuse me for being so blunt.

No problem. That's why I'm here- to learn more about what your guys think.

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:56:20 UTC | #628480

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 28 by SaganTheCat

BJohn

thank you for that. it was interesting although i think it comes down to a general philosophy in catholicism that if somethings sufficiently wooly it's no threat

can we have a philosophically neutral science class? Do you agree that the data of science does not lead inevitably to conclusions of atheism and “absolute unguideness”?

I'm not sure what you mean by philosophically neutral but you can have a science class without philosophy which is the correct way to do it. at best discuss the philosophies of scientists in a historic sense. philosophy killed god off a long time ago though, science just does the forensics

Yes I agree the data of science do not lead inevitably to conclusions of atheism. i would take the word "inevitably" out of the sentence to make it more accurate. no evidence of intentional guidance in nature exists. the evidence of ever effect points to a natural cause and if we are to use the evidence of science to come up with some sort of odds of a conscious creator I think you could put "there's no god" in the same sort of ball park as "broomsticks don't fly"

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:56:34 UTC | #628481

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 29 by crookedshoes

Nordic11, I teach high school and the kids ask about everything as well. They ask, unabashedly about stuff that "polite" people do not ask...... I agree with you about having the latitude to answer when directly asked... It can be very difficult and they seem to know when you are lying --

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:58:08 UTC | #628484

BJohn's Avatar Comment 30 by BJohn

Comment 24 by C.Wood :

Atheism is not a belief, a way of life, or a philosophy. Naturalism is not directly related to atheism. Being an atheist means "one who does not accept deities have been proven to exist". Have they? Can they prove any god or gods exist?

This confusion kind of annoys me, excuse me for being so blunt.

No problem, C. Wood. I did not find your Frank comments offensive. However, I'm not sure I see the force of your objection. As I understand the terms, Agnosticism is the suspension of belief in any deity on account of a lack of evidence. Atheism is the conviction or belief (rather than the suspension of belief) that there is in fact no God or gods. Atheism seems to me to be a way of life, or at least it lends itself to being one, insofar as one's position on such a huge question is likely to shape his or her behavior.

Do you agree?

Thu, 19 May 2011 16:19:18 UTC | #628493