Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Dover the Sequel?

It appears that we may be set to begin principal shooting on Dover: The Sequel, this time in Virginia. There has been some uproar in the Chesterfield County School District lately, where the school board has been in the process of ordering new science textbooks and has been under pressure from some in the community to incorporate teaching about intelligent design along with evolution in those classes. The Chesterfield Observer reports on what happened at recent school board meetings in this regard:

At issue was the concept of intelligent design, and why none of the proposed textbooks offered an alternative to evolution for how the universe came to be.

Intelligent design proponents urged the School Board to include that theory in the school system’s science curriculum so students can consider differing viewpoints in the classroom.


Here are some specifics:

But some proponents of intelligent design who spoke before the School Board last week believe limiting discussions to evolution is anything but neutral.

“Our children are not being educated; they are being indoctrinated,” said Cathleen Waagner. “Let the evidence speak for itself and let [the students] draw their own conclusions.”

Another speaker, Michael Slagle, presented a document containing 700 signatures of scientists worldwide who have questioned the validity of evolution.

“Students are being excluded from scientific debate. It’s time to bring this debate into the classroom,” he said.

The school board did end up approving the regular textbooks by a unanimous vote, textbooks that do not include ID at all. But then the school board chairman, Thomas Doland, issued a memorandum that appears to instruct the superintendent and the curriculum officials to find a way to incorporate ID in to science classrooms outside of those textbooks. Here is the full text of that memorandum:

Chesterfield County School Board Chair Thomas J. Doland read this statement during the May 22 board meeting. Mr. Doland asked that the statement be included Memorandum No. 45 regarding textbook adoptions for Chesterfield County Public Schools.

“Our vision for this school system is anchored upon the understanding that our schools must be thriving, dynamic, and inspiring educational environments that produce self-directed learners. Self-directed learning occurs only when alternative views are explored and discussed. The unimpeded exploration of different perspectives is essential in this regard, and the School Board wholeheartedly encourages such exploration. We implore our students to expand their knowledge through research, to debate the concepts as presented, and to develop their creative and independent thinking skills.

The Virginia Constitution authorizes the State Board of Education to approve textbooks and instructional aids and materials for use in courses in the public schools of the Commonwealth. The State Board has adopted applicable regulations and our School Board is complying with the Constitution and those regulations as it adopts textbooks for use in Chesterfield County Public Schools. The School Board is cognizant that technology now allows easy access to an almost infinite number of resources facilitating learning. To suggest that we should limit our students’ access to specifically approved textbooks and instructional materials would not only inhibit self-directed learning but would also ill-prepare our young people for the challenges that will face them in the competitive global market of the 21st century.

Science textbook statement from School Board Chair Thomas J. Doland (cont.)
“We have received much interest and concern from our citizens relating to the theory of evolution as taught in our science classes. It is the School Board’s belief that this topic, along with all other topics that raise differences of thought and opinion, should receive the thorough and unrestricted study as we have just articulated. Accordingly, we direct our superintendent to charge those of our professionals who support curriculum development and implementation with the responsibility to investigate and develop processes that encompass a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of these topics. We also ask that the Superintendent report to us the results of this assignment and his evaluation of its success.

As it relates to every aspect of our official duties, we have each taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. Secretary of Education has reminded us that “the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression. He further states, “[s]tudents may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Such home and classroom work should be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school.” We must never confuse the requirement for religious neutrality of the government with the rights of our students to engage in religious expression. To this end, the School Board directs the Superintendent, the School Board Attorney, and other appropriate members of the staff to instruct all of the Board’s employees responsible for the education of our students about these principles that we have sworn to uphold. This instruction shall be accomplished on an ongoing basis with verification provided to the School Board annually.”

Looks to me like they are going to develop supplemental materials, outside of the textbooks they approved, to put ID into science classrooms along with evolution. If they do so, of course, a lawsuit will be filed immediately and it will end up costing the school board a whole lot of money. They have been led in to the Dover Trap and the result will likely be the same. They would be wise to step back from the precipice on this one.

Comments

  1. #1 Ginger Yellow
    June 5, 2007

    “At issue was the concept of intelligent design, and why none of the proposed textbooks offered an alternative to evolution for how the universe came to be. ”

    *sigh*

  2. #2 jba
    June 5, 2007

    Maybe we should start referring to these types of ID advocates as ‘school-fund-syphons’(something catchy would be better…) for their determination to drain schools of money.

  3. #3 Dave S.
    June 5, 2007

    Yes…why is you can’t find a single textbook that offers an alternative to the atomic theory of matter?

    How are the kids supposed to think critically when you only present one side???

  4. #4 J-Dog
    June 5, 2007

    jba: There is already a word that one can use to describe these types of ID Advocates – that word is “loser”.

  5. #5 natural cynic
    June 5, 2007

    The subject could be easily dealt with if the direction was to only incorporate all of the research supporting ID/C.

    [crickets]

    and now for some real science…

  6. #6 Michael Heath
    June 5, 2007

    In symptathy to Ginger Yellow’s point, below is an email I wrote to the journalist who wrote the article Ed linked us to:

    Sub: Advice on covering Evolution vs. ID story

    I just finished reading your article, http://www.richmond.com/education/output.aspx?Article_ID=4707910&Vertical_ID=127&tier=1&position=5.

    I assume this story will have legs and you’ll be covering this for your employer. If so, I highly recommend boning up on your understanding of science and how ID supporters manipulate the media and public. For example, the theory of evolution does not even attempt to explain how oceans or the universe were formed as stated or implied in your article. Intelligent Design is a religious idea, it is not an alternative theory to evolution, Science has no competing theory to explain the origin of species, which is what evolution limits itself to in regards to being an explanatory model.

    To date, no ID hypothesis has been successfully tested, nor any predictions made and verified that substantiate this religious idea. Occasionally a claim is made, almost always by someone with no expertise in the field (e.g., Michael Behe and William Dembski come to mind), however these claims are always quickly and effectively discredited by the scientists who actually practice in the field being covered by people like Behe and Dembski.

    I would also highly recommend insuring you have a rock solid understanding of the following definitions: hypothesis, theory, and peer-accepted theory, as they are used within the scientific community. These words will be bandied around quite loosely by ID supporters, e.g., “evolution is a theory, not a fact”, which actually is a nonsensical statement that only illuminates the ignorance of the person making such a claim. ID has never progressed to being a testable hypothesis, let alone become an alternative theory to the peer-accepted theory of evolution.

    A good example is Ms. Waagner’s (sp?) quote going unanswered in the story. I would argue that the journalist in this story has an obligation to follow such a quote noting that no evidence for ID exists, there is no controversy within the scientific community regarding evolution in general, and that ID supporters have slowly given ground to the point now where their leaders concede that common descent is irrefutable.

    Here are some blogs that will certainly follow this story and help explain the science behind this issue and also explain the rhetoric used by people that support ID:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
    http://www.pandasthumb.org/
    http://scienceblogs.com/
    http://www.talkorigins.org/

    The people that make a living supporting ID are very adept at using rhetoric or just plain lying about the status of the science that supports and explains evolution. While this plays well with people that oppose evolution for religious reasons, it makes journalists look foolish when scientists rip on their articles post-publication and stuns the pubic when courts rule in favor of not allowing religious indoctrination into the public schools’ science classrooms as a valid explanation of reality. Because of this, I also highly recommend reading the Dover trial transcripts and reading Barbara Forrest’s book, http://www.amazon.com/Creationisms-Trojan-Horse-Intelligent-Design/dp/0195319737/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-2546235-0497421?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1181065159&sr=8-1.

    Good luck with this story, it’s a great opportunity for a journalist to make their mark since it may very well get national attention, hopefully in your case it will be a positive experience.

    Sincerely,

    Mike

    Michael Heath

  7. #7 David Durant
    June 5, 2007

    What’s the legality of this? If I’m on the governing body of an organisation and I act in such a way that I *know* will cause it to be sued with an overwhelmingly chanced of loosing and paying our large amounts of money then can I be held *personally* liable?

    There is no doubt that shareholders can sue management of companies who deliberately act in a way to harm the value of a companies shares. Is there anything similar to hold the school board members accountable in this case?

  8. #8 Herb
    June 5, 2007

    why is you can’t find a single textbook that offers an alternative to the atomic theory of matter?

    Oh I’m sure you could if you surfed the web long enough.

  9. #9 Ginger Yellow
    June 5, 2007

    “What’s the legality of this? If I’m on the governing body of an organisation and I act in such a way that I *know* will cause it to be sued with an overwhelmingly chanced of loosing and paying our large amounts of money then can I be held *personally* liable?”

    Not in the US, as I understand it. In the UK, local councillors are subject to such “surcharges”.

  10. #10 Patrick Smyth
    June 5, 2007

    I suppose that one end run around this ID nonsense would be to offer a cultural anthropology classes that present creation myths from many cultures (Adam&Eve, Flying Spaghetti Monster, The Great Achoo and the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief, etc). That would at least keep the mythology where it belongs; in a mythology studies curriculum, and AWAY from from the science curriculum.

    Of course, the creationists would object to this approach because it would present alternative viewpoints other than their own. Ah well.

    Patrick

  11. #11 Bill Gascoyne
    June 5, 2007

    “…we may be set to begin principal shooting on Dover: The Sequel…”

    OK, do you mean shooting a school principal, or shooting moral principles, or… ;-)

  12. #12 GH
    June 5, 2007

    The sad, truly sad, thing is that these schools likely don’t have alot of money lying around and the ID nonsense just sucks money from other more worthy school usage so a particular group can furtheran agenda. If that isn’t the definition of selfishness I don’t know what is.

  13. #13 skblllzzzz
    June 5, 2007

    “Self-directed learning”

    Oh deary me, that sounds a lot like what has recently come under heavy fire here in Holland as part of “The New Learning”. A nice quicktime movie clip pokes fun at TNL here (bottom of the page).

    Dutch students have even gone on strike of late in protest of TNL. Reading, writing and math are in a very bad shape in Dutch schools at the moment. We don’t need ID to combat good education, just budget-cutting in disguise.

  14. #14 Sastra
    June 5, 2007

    I like the way that, after going on and on about “alternative scientific viewpoints” and how important it is to have a comprehensive approach towards self-directed learning, the memorandum ends with an endorsment for “the rights of our students to engage in religious expression.” Hey, how did that get in there?

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbCHimp
    June 5, 2007

    Michael Heath, very nice.

    The conflation of the beginning of life and evolution is something the creationists have been very good at pushing out. To the point that people not involved in the discussion actually immediately make the same mistake.

    Addressing the media is a good way to hopefully start setting the lines where they need to be. One line being not putting ID/Creationism on the same playing field as Evolution.

    Nice letter.

  16. #16 Rasputin
    June 5, 2007

    “Maybe we should start referring to these types of ID advocates as ‘school-fund-syphons’(something catchy would be better…) for their determination to drain schools of money.”

    Sypho-cants perhaps? They syphon money away and can’t possibly be stupid enough to think they’re going to get away with it.

    Except, of course, they can be.

  17. #17 Ed Tillman
    June 5, 2007

    Yikes. I live in Chesterfield and my son goes to school here. I’d better start attending school board meetings.

  18. #18 dogmeatib
    June 5, 2007

    “What’s the legality of this? If I’m on the governing body of an organisation and I act in such a way that I *know* will cause it to be sued with an overwhelmingly chanced of loosing and paying our large amounts of money then can I be held *personally* liable?”

    Not in the US, as I understand it. In the UK, local councillors are subject to such “surcharges”.

    Actually that depends on the state and local ordinances. Some states do have provisions where officials who knowingly take action that costs the district money can be subject to fees, fines, etc. Here in Arizona they have what they refer to as Attorney General’s opinions. In a circumstance where the district board believed the law is fuzzy enough on an action they were considering taking, they could write to the AG and ask for their opinion. If the AG gave them the go ahead, then the district isn’t financially liable for legal costs, etc. (the state still is). If they AG says it’s a “no go” and the district goes ahead with the plan/policy/action and then gets sued, they’re liable (and possibly open for individual penalties).

  19. #19 dogmeatib
    June 5, 2007

    Ed (if you don’t mind me calling you that),

    What is Chesterfield like? Very rural, suburban/urban?

  20. #20 Ferrous Patella
    June 5, 2007

    I wonder if I could repackage the Dover Trial Transcipts as an ID textbook and sell it to these people. They would never actually read it, it would pass the Constitutional test and it would teach the students everything they need to know about ID. Everybody is happy!

  21. #21 raven
    June 5, 2007

    Outrageous. If they are going to start teaching ID lies, what about the truth. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is far more interesting and relevant and the school board should must give equal time. I would say teach the controversy but what is controversial about the FSM?

    As to school boards getting sued, losing, and ending up with less money then they started.

    It is all taxpayer’s money and they don’t care.

    The kids ultimately suffer from fewer resources, but the wingnuts don’t care either. It is far more important to be a destructive wingnut than educate kids. If you can’t use kids as pawns in some sort of stupid game, what good are they?

  22. #22 mark
    June 5, 2007

    Meanwhile, back in Dover, students will be wearing mandatory ID badges come next Fall (er, Autumn, not Original Sin).

  23. #23 dogmeatib
    June 5, 2007

    From the article posted by mark, the objecting board member:

    Geesey said that some “religious” people in the community will also take issue with their children wearing a badge that contains a barcode, due to the Biblical reference of “the mark of the beast.”

    This won’t affect her, she said, because she sends her children to cyber school when they reach high
    school age.

    Two problems here, first, the mark of the beast is a barcode? Do I take it then they don’t shop … ever?

    Also, a school board member sending their kids to “cyberschool???” Wow, I’m not certain that their board is that much better than the one that voted in Pandas.

  24. #24 Ed Tillman
    June 5, 2007

    Dogmeat,
    Chesterfield is suburban, right outside of Richmond. I’ve never felt it to be extremely religious here (for instance many students at the local high school observe the “Day of Silence” with no problems) but the local government does seem to have suffered a takeover of some religious types. The county government unfortunately won a case to keep non-Christian prayers from being invoked at their public meetings.
    But most of the people I know around here aren’t all that fundie, which is why I am hoping some simple publicized reality checks will derail this crap; look what happened to the Dover school board after all.

  25. #25 Ed Brayton
    June 5, 2007

    Yeah, I’ve already got a post written about Heather Geesey and the ID badges at Dover. She’s going out with a bang.

  26. #26 doctorgoo
    June 5, 2007

    Meanwhile, back in Dover, students will be wearing mandatory ID badges come next Fall (er, Autumn, not Original Sin).

    ROFLMAO!!!

    Also, a school board member sending their kids to “cyberschool???” Wow, I’m not certain that their board is that much better than the one that voted in Pandas.

    dogmeatib, this isn’t a member of the new school board, this is Heather Geesey, the last remaining (and soon to be gone) member of the old creationist board.

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/05/final_dover_board_member_gone.php

  27. #27 dogmeatib
    June 5, 2007

    Ahh, thanks Ed and doc’, I was afraid that they had elected a new bunch of morons, or one had slipped through. I didn’t think any of the old members were still around.

  28. #28 snaxalotl
    June 5, 2007

    as usual, it’s worth noting, the major ID viewpoint isn’t the “ID researchers” who write books, or the next rung down who read the books and know a bit of evolution and kind of follow the arguments, or the next (still larger) rung who read the books and couldn’t really follow the big words but came to share the sense of outrage that secular science refuses to consider this brilliant material. The lowest and largest rung are those people who heard about dembski and behe second hand. All they know about the topic are that some really really clever guy with a real beard wrote a really really big book that disproves evolution, but their children are forced to endure the humiliation of a god-hating education because of the liberals and preverts in the supreme courts. These people are 100% politics and jesus, and 0% science. Do you get angry at the people, or the people misinforming them? or do you wait for it to play out in the courts enough times that they finally get a clue?
    *sigh*

  29. #29 Daniel Hall
    June 5, 2007

    I sure wish debate had been part of the class when I took biology! I might have passed. I’m a great debater but have a terrible memory for facts. An open class ought include debate of the merits of astrology and magic as well. Let’s be fair. -Dan

  30. #30 Daniel Hall
    June 5, 2007

    I sure wish debate had been part of the class when I took biology! I might have passed. I’m a great debater but have a terrible memory for facts. An open class ought include debate of the merits of astrology and magic as well. Let’s be fair. -Dan

  31. #31 Karen
    June 5, 2007

    Well, thanks for cheering me up, Ed. You see, my evil ex-sister-in-law has divorced my brother, and she’s trying to yank their son out of our excellent Connecticut schools and take him to Richmond. He’s a very bright child– he taught himself to read– and now look what he’ll be walking into!

    btw, I wonder what these “incidents” do to real estate prices?

    -Karen

  32. #32 Karen
    June 5, 2007

    OOPS– I meant “taught himself how to read.” (I should teach myself how to proofread.)

  33. #33 John Pieret
    June 5, 2007

    Re the legality of this:

    As far as I can translate from the politicalese, there are two separate proposals here: 1) the instruction to the superintendent “to investigate and develop processes that encompass a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of these topics” (presumably including ID somewhere in the curriculum) and 2) the intention to allow students to “express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination.”

    The apparent justification of both proposals rests on the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools that was issued as part of No Child Left Liking School (or whatever that bill was called). The American Center for Law and Justice (Pat Robertson’s outfit) and the Rutherford Institute have apparently been humping this from the get-go as a [cough] wedge to get prayer back in the schools.

    As far as teaching ID in a science class (except, perhaps, in a block on the history and/or the philosophy of science), I doubt they have much chance after Dover. The Discovery Institute will likely be in there again warning against it as well. On the other hand, having a policy that, if any child brings it up in a section on evolution, the teacher has to give some sort of “neutral presentation” on it could fly just below the Constitution’s radar.

    So far, this is just political bafflegab. The devil will be in the details of what, if anything, the board actually does.

  34. #34 Michael Heath
    June 5, 2007

    snaxalotl,

    Excellent post regarding the locals driving the issue. You are absolutely right regarding the local paradigm that causes these incidents.

    However, how the media reacts has a ripple effect in other localities and helps determine whether this controversy continues or dies out. IMHO, the media continues to get it wrong by often failing to properly define the controversy with the exception of the national MSM sources which have only recently gotten it right, thorugh no small part by gentlemen like Ed and PZ Myers educating all of us regarding this controversy.

  35. #35 Ex-drone
    June 5, 2007

    Cathleen Waagner, presumably a Chesterfield School Board member, bemoans:

    Our children are not being educated; they are being indoctrinated.

    Yes. Apparently at Chesterfield homes, this is true. Perhaps she’s afraid that all their efforts at religious indoctrination will be undermined by a well informed science curriculum.

  36. #36 Ron Okimoto
    June 5, 2007

    These are just rubes too out of it to know that the creationist scam has changed. They will be given the bait and switch scam and offered “Critical Analysis” instead of the bogus “teach Intelligent Design” creationist scam. The dishonest ones will take the replacement scam from the same guys that they know lied to them about the ID scam. As sad as that sounds that is just what will happen.

    It happened in Ohio, and it would have happened in Dover if the Discovery Institute ID creationist scam artists could have convinced the Dover rubes to take the switch.

    It can only be the clueless that are taken in by the ID scam at this point. When the dishonest perps that ran the ID scam are pushing a new scam that doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed, what kind of idiot would not know that the game was up?

    The ID scam artists will clue these rubes in on the new scam and the bait and switch will have happened again. The only thing that intelligent design is being used for at the moment is as smoke to make it sound like ID/creationism is part of some scientific controversy worth teaching. Only the dishonest perps that are running the current critical analysis creationist replacement scam seem to know that ID/creationism is not part of any controversy that they can teach. Pretty soon these Virginia creationist rubes will be set straight and they will have to decide whether to go with the new scam being perpetrated by the same dishonest bunch that they know lied to them about the intelligent design scam. Some of them will take the switch. If enough do it, they will try to make up some scam type of teaching material.

    They will have to do this themselves because the dishonest perps that are running the critical analysis scam have never made up a public school lesson plan demonstrating that they had anything honest to teach. These are the same dishonest perps that never wrote up a public school lesson plan about teaching intelligent design and we all know why they never did that. They have been working on the replacement scam since, at least, 1999 and there still isn’t a lesson plan for it either. Why? If they really had something worth teaching, why can’t they demonstrate it? Heck, if ID were all that they claimed, why would they have needed a replacement scam, that doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed, as far back as 1999?

    The Discovery Institute shouldn’t be given a free pass. They are the dishonest perps that are pushing the dishonest creationist scams, so why do they force the rubes to do their dirty work? Why do the creationist rubes accept it?

    A lesson plan is simple and the PhDs associated with the Discovery Institute scam outfit shouldn’t have a problem writing one up.

    What do they want to teach?
    How are they going to teach it?
    What teaching materials are they going to use?
    What are the students supposed to learn from the lessons?
    How will the students be evaluated on what they should have learned?

    Over half a decade of working on the ID replacement scam and they haven’t bothered to write up a simple lesson plan. These same dishonest perps pushed the “teach ID scam” for over a decade and no ID lesson plan was ever put forward by them. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess why, since they are now pushing a replacement scam that doesn’t even mention that ID ever existed.

  37. #37 Dave Carlson
    June 5, 2007

    Does it make me a bad person that the idea of another high drama, high profile Dover-esque trial sounds really entertaining?

  38. #38 Pierce R. Butler
    June 6, 2007

    The “Dover trap” can snap both ways.

    Most likely scenario: school board sets up some program including some type of creationism; parents & secularists sue; court hears & media quote-mine extensive arguments; court rules against the program or its creationist components and whack$ school board; local politicians blame every school budget problem for next decade on liberal activist judges; majority of county voters are pushed yet further toward the right wing.

    Of course, that assumes that Virginia courts are not yet dominated by Reagan/Bush appointees who’ve read the memo that Jones overlooked in Pennsylvania (the one pointing out how honoring Republican partisanship outweighs traditional American jurisprudence).

  39. #39 gwangung
    June 6, 2007

    Personally, I would hammer ‘em again and again with the fact that they are acting like Lysenko–a communist. They’re trying to force through the school board a policy that lost in the marketplace of ideas, that lost in the labs and lost in the court.

    They’re cheating. They couldn’t win fairly, so they’re trying to to game the system.

  40. #40 MartinM
    June 6, 2007

    Students are being excluded from scientific debate

    Because of course the best way to settle any legitimate scientific debate is to get a bunch of kids with no proper background to argue about it.

  41. #41 csrster
    June 6, 2007

    Michael: as others have said, a great letter, even with the “pubic” typo.

  42. #42 Bill
    June 7, 2007

    to Michael Heath,
    Mike, Do we have your permission to use a copy of your letter to send to journalists/etc. I think it was very good and to the point. I do not have the gift to put words in good order like that, thanks. I will give you credit where ever i use it.

  43. #43 Martha
    June 8, 2007

    Ed Tillman, can you contact me offline at mheil@aip.org. It would be really great if you could attend school board meetings, at least the ones that will provide the “annual audit” of the instructional material.

    thanks,

    Martha Heil

  44. #44 Ed Brayton
    June 8, 2007

    Hi Martha. I don’t know if Mr. Tillman will see that, but I have emailed him and put him in contact with Susan Spath at the NCSE. Hopefully they are working on that already.

  45. #45 Jedidiah Palosaari
    June 8, 2007

    That’s so great. It’s true, in this technological age, you have all these resources you can use. The teachers should just direct the student to the internet. There they can find all kinds of neat scientific ideas that go under-reported in the classroom- like this one my students brought to my attention a couple years ago- http://www.malepregnancy.com/ And the history teacher was commenting on in the classroom as an amazing new development, because, well, she’s a history teacher, and doesn’t know anything about science.

  46. #46 Justin Moretti
    June 12, 2007

    Personally I don’t see ANY problem with introducing Intelligent Design to a science classroom. First you give the students a rundown on what DNA is, how it is transcribed and how a genome works (genes or signals switching other genes on/off), how it is reproduced (mitosis, meiosis, crossover events etc.) and altered (mutations of all kinds). This should be possible, even if it is done at only a simplistic level, for a twelve or thirteen year old to understand.

    Then you introduce the concept of subtle changes at the genetic level introducing subtle changes in the visible characteristics of the organism. Just a concept, no claims.

    Then you present the case for evolution on the basis of multiple genetic similarities across widely divergent species (mammals, birds, reptiles, sea sponges etc.), including the process and principles of deductive reasoning, inherent to science, on which the conclusions were made.

    Then you put up Intelligent Design’s claims.

    Then you ask them:

    “SO, what sort of positive experimental proof would we need to support Intelligent Design?”

    Having discussed this ad nauseam, perhaps over a couple of classes, you then ask them to go out and find it.

    Unlike adults, children generally do not go for intellectual coprophagy – they can tell when an adult’s trying to feed them bullshit. And the best way to really piss a schoolchild right off – to make them completely furious and spark their sense of moral outrage – is to give them a homework assignment which is impossible of fulfilment.

  47. #47 Dave Ocame
    June 12, 2007

    It should be pointed out that Michael Behe and William Dumski (I mean Demski. Sorry about the typo but it really does fit so well) are both noted scholars; Behe in Biochemistry, and Demski in Mathematics. I just can’t help wondering what happened to each of them that caused this turn towards ” the dark side” ? Couldn’t be revelation or enlightenment. It’s got to be money, somehow.

    Perhaps they both are playing a weird game of devil’s advocate and will soon come out with the truth of their game?