The Loom

Blunt talk from L. Lynn Hogue, conservative law professor from Georgia via law.com. Hogue has signed an amicus brief in the Georgia textbook sticker case supporting the removal of the anti-evolution disclaimers. “I’m not religiously sympathetic to anti-evolutionists, who I think are lunatics.” Professor Hogue, please drop a line to the President.

Comments

  1. #1 Christopher Heard
    December 15, 2005

    Thanks, Carl. I followed your link to the law.com article and found that the part about Hogue is actually less interesting to me than the comments of his successor at the Southeastern Legal Foundation, Shannon Goessling. Ms. Goessling is quoted as saying both “It appears that, on a daily basis, we’re bombarded with attacks on Christian expression” and “This is not a separation-of-church-and-state case.” So which is it, Ms. Goessling? You can’t reasonably characterize the Cobb County issue as “not a separation-of-church-and-state case” and as one of many “attacks on Christian expression.” Either the first-quoted sentence above is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, or Ms. Goessling sees the stickers as “Christian expression,” which clearly would make the stickers a separation-of-church-and-state issue. I’ve got a lot more to say about all this, but it’s all over at Higgaion so I won’t repeat it here.

  2. #2 Luke Lea
    December 16, 2005

    The sticker reads: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

    My only quarrel with this sticker is that evolution is a theory of the origin of species, not the origin of living things. There is no well-accepted theory, and very little evidence, as to the origin of living things.

    The question of who is behind the sticker campaign, or what their motives might be, is quite beside the point so far as the legal issue is concerned. I am willing to bet a good bottle of wine that the courts will rule that way. Any takers?

    That said, I cannot help but wonder why scientists can’t see that it would be a smart tactical move on their part to include a frank discussion of the nature and limitations of science in the preface to every high school science textbook, as a way to keep unsubstantiated theories of intelligent design out of the body of the texts themselves.

    Indeed, isn’t it time to admit that the question of what, if anything, might conceivably count as evidence for intelligent design is a fascinating subject in its own right. Does the so-called fine-tuning problem in physics count? If not, why not? Why should the anthropic principle be preferred, which assumes the existence of a virtually infinite number of other universes for which we have not an iota of evidence?

    Scientists might also be more forthcoming in admitting that chance and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive categories. For example, the chance of throwing snake eyes with a pair of dice is one in thirty-six, but only if the dice themselves have been carefully designed and manufactured to be fair.

    But my real point is that the scientific establishment should show a little more respect for the religious sensibilities of the overwhelming majority of American voters. Their belief in the Hebraic conception of God is not only a source of emotional comfort in times of sorrow, but undergirds their sense of moral responsibility towards others. It’s neither wise nor responsible to disregard such a widespread belief in a democracy, if only for the sake of the future funding of science.


    Luke Lea

  3. #3 jim
    December 16, 2005

    need some feedback on those puebla footprints…

  4. #4 Stephen
    December 16, 2005

    Scientists have some naming convention karma to work out. When the Vatican said that “Evolution is more than a hypothesis”, the terminology was more right than science generally gets it. A hypothesis can be whatever you dream up. Once some good substantiating data backs it up it may migrate to be a theory. It is said, ‘The General Theory of Relativity’, and ‘The Theory of Evolution’, which puts Evolution in as much doubt as Gravity. From this viewpoint, the stickers are misleading. So, “Evolution is a theory, not a fact” demonstrates ignorance, which parents might want to avoid in textbooks.

    What has people up in arms is that the stickers are clearly an attack. The attacks are on science in general, not just Evolution. AnswersInGenesis attacks astronomy, for example http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v25/i4/lighttravel.asp
    These attacks sound reasoned, but close examination shows them to be nonsense (non-science).

  5. #5 tina
    December 17, 2005

    I with you completely agree Luke Lea.

  6. #6 jim
    December 17, 2005

    im hearing that some of those puebla/vasquillo footprints “track” thru multiple layers of ash, which means-more recent…

  7. #7 Anonymous
    December 19, 2005

    In regards to Luke Lea,

    You are correct that the theory of evolution does not directly say how life originated and only provides a model for how species evolve and inherit traits. The defense of evolution, however, if done rationally is neither an attack on religion as the foundation for morality nor disrespectful of its importance to many people. A scientific acceptance of evolution and a belief in religion are not mutually exclusive. And neither does the theory of evolution espouse any morality, these were non-scientific interpretations that used natural selection as a justification and rationalization.

    The biggest problems that I see, with having any stickers or frank discussions included in high school textbooks explaining the limitations of science are manifold. One, such a sticker or introduction would be insufficient to explain the ramifications of the philosophy of science and deserves a class of its own. Two, as such the students are there to learn science and these discussion belong in philosophy and theology classes. Three, it places a special burden on science, why not discuss the philosophy of mathematics or history or graphic design? And four there is no scientific controversy or doubt about the basic validity of the theory of evolution. Unless there significant evidence against evolution, and there is not (and those puebla footprints only suggest that humans arrived in the Americas earlier than thought and there is controversy about whether those footprints are real, Nature Dec 1. pg. E7-E8, and data from the discovery team has yet to be published) there should not be a sticker stating that there is.

    I can only speak for myself but as a scientists I do NOT think that an acceptance of evolution replaces Christian nor any other morality.

  8. #8 jim
    December 20, 2005

    four very good points anon., i was just interested in those footprints, specifically, not as a challenge to anyone-thought i could get a technical discussion going, anyways on the origin of life the idea of panspermia(migration of bacteria in space) was once a crackpot concept but now gaining respect…

  9. #9 Froggy
    December 27, 2005

    Excellent observations.
    What is science so afraid of that they have to go to court and ban teaching of intelligent design?
    Could it be that they fear the loss of their rice bowl?
    How does the teaching of intelligent design threaten the teaching of science?
    Are they afraid of the side by side comparison?
    Does not compute.

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