Pharyngula

All right, who’s in charge of pool predicting the location of the next big creationist trial? The odds on Florida have just gone up: another Board of Education member has said something stupid.

I would support teaching evolution, but with all its warts. I think that some of the facts have been questioned by evolutionists themselves. I would want them taught as theories. That’s important. They could be challenged by others and the kids could then be taught critical thinking and they can make their own choices.

Thank you, Linda Taylor. Warts: name two. Theory: define the term. Answer the following multiple choice question:

Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories?

  1. Scientists with years of training in the subject, and qualified science teachers who understand the fundamentals of the theory.
  2. Creationists who won’t even commit to an estimate of the age of the earth.
  3. Members of the board of education who have absolutely no training in the sciences.
  4. Children who are just being introduced to the topic for the first time, haven’t read any of the primary literature, and who are entirely dependent on the competence of the instructors who have given them an outline of the general story.

So I’m leaning towards a big blow-up in Florida. Now you might think Texas should be in the lead, what with the obvious clown circus in the Chris Comer story, but I suspect that the Texas creationists have grossly overreached and are going to face a serious backlash — Texas biology professors are pissed off and are mobilizing to fight back. Floridans are going for the slow and steady buildup.

Florida parents are also contributing to the problem. Let’s see more Florida parents rising up to protest so I can dial those odds down a notch.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    December 12, 2007

    I would then be forced to bring up the obligatory Scientology comment, pointing out that they have their own creation myth, and start questioning the IDiots why they are unwilling to permit the Scientology myth in classrooms, as well.
    Of course, that could simply be making the situation worse; Scientologists are not know as the most, er, kind-hearted people out there.

    See? That’s why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented revealed Himself. Raamen!

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?
    December 12, 2007

    I would then be forced to bring up the obligatory Scientology comment, pointing out that they have their own creation myth, and start questioning the IDiots why they are unwilling to permit the Scientology myth in classrooms, as well.
    Of course, that could simply be making the situation worse; Scientologists are not know as the most, er, kind-hearted people out there.

    See? That’s why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented revealed Himself. Raamen!

  3. #3 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    PZ’s multiple choice question should be considered in light of another multiple choice question.

    Who is best qualified to make informed choices about the existence of God?

    A. Pointy-headed scientists with years of training in the nature of reality, but no understanding of the deeper, spiritual things.

    B. Rational adults who have studied the world’s religions, read philosophy and theology, and weighed the arguments on both sides before coming to a reasoned decision.

    C. Children who are informed from birth that God exists and loves them, and who have a natural tendency to attribute meaning, purpose, and intentions to anything more complicated than a rock.

    “And a little child shall lead them …”

    God wouldn’t make it all too hard for a child to grasp, now would He?

  4. #4 Brownian, OM
    December 12, 2007

    So we gotta teach the controversy with regards to evolution versus goddiditthrumagic, but the the religios gotta boycott Pullman?

    Oh please, dear Lord, if You truly exist, please, please, please bring the Rapture and save the rest of us from your narcissitic, borderline-psychotic retardsdevoted followers.

  5. #5 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    Matt Penfold #62 wrote:

    SO it would seem the scientists can tell us rather a lot about the possibility of god existing. It is a pity so many do not listen to them.

    I agree, and well put. But it seems that an uncomfortable number of Christians not only define and throw out option #1 — but think that option #2 (thoughtful and mature analysis) is also fishy. No, the best way to qualify people for the task of deciding if there is a God is to indoctrinate them from birth, and encourage and praise every childish tendency and habit of seeing purpose in everything as “innate wisdom.” Make sure they’re babbling how they know God loves them by the time they can barely talk. They’re capable of being sure of that sort of thing.

    I really do think that one of the reasons behind the surprising displays of hubris on the part of unqualified people who so blithely dismiss scientific expertise is a world-view which thinks the universe has been set up for our comprehension. Everything which is important to know about is readily accessible to the sincere seeker, regardless of their educational background, intelligence, or age, as long as they allow themselves to be guided like a child towards God by instinct.

    I raised my children the way I was raised myself: without religion. I didn’t “teach” atheism either. I told them there were a lot of different views on God, this is what I thought and why, but they should consider everything and come to their own conclusions when they were mature enough to look at the issue carefully.

    And yet, I would not want them sitting in a science class and asked to “choose for themselves” between the consensus of experts and a “theory” which scientists say is bad science, and no theory at all. They’re not qualified for that. You have to really know the field if you’re going to go against it.

    Creationists seem to be doing it the opposite way — in both cases, going with the “hunch” which has the desired conclusion over the cautious method which attempts to be correct. When you go that route, even small children are fit to grapple with difficult questions, and solve them against people with actual expertise. God makes a simple universe, brought down to the level of the simple.

  6. #6 truth machine
    December 12, 2007

    Who is best qualified to make informed choices about the existence of God?

    A. Pointy-headed scientists with years of training in the nature of reality, but no understanding of the deeper, spiritual things.

    B. Rational adults who have studied the world’s religions, read philosophy and theology, and weighed the arguments on both sides before coming to a reasoned decision.

    That’s quite a false dichotomy. Since when do scientists necessarily have no understanding of “the deeper spiritual things” (if there are any — the wording begs the question), aren’t rational adults, haven’t studied the world’s religions, haven’t read philosophy and theology, haven’t weighed “the arguments on both sides”, or haven’t come to reasoned decisions? And since when are any of the characteristics in B, other than rationality, essential to coming a reasoned decision? We don’t require such studying and weighing when it comes to astrology, flat-earthism, Velikovskiism, or a host of other claims. What the heck does studying the world’s religions, which are human institutions, have to do with whether God exists? (A question Dawkins’ critics would do well to answer.) Do we have to study all Sun-worshipping sects before “coming to a reasoned decision” as to whether the Sun is a deity?

    I think that those “with years of training in the nature of reality” are much more likely to have an accurate “understanding of the deeper, spiritual things” than those who live in Sagan’s “demon-haunted world”, and those who live in that world aren’t made any the wiser by studying the religions, philosophy, theology, and arguments of their coinhabitants.

  7. #7 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    truthmachine #71:

    Since I more or less agree with you, I obviously did a poor job getting across that I was being snarky. I was pretending to present the options as a Creationist would see them:

    The people who are best qualified to decide whether God exists or not are not the scientists (because they’re cold); not mature philosophers (because they think too much.) No, the only qualification you really need to come to make a decision on the truth of theism is to be as a little child, open, trusting, and simple.

    They seem to approach science the same way.

  8. #8 Sastra, OM
    December 12, 2007

    Matt:
    Looks good to me — very well written. My only suggestion might be more paragraph breaks, to make it easier to pick out points at a glance.

    (btw, this post is about a Linda Taylor and it’s addressed to Ms. Callaway. I haven’t been following names all that closely; I assume she’s a major player.)

  9. #9 foxfire
    December 12, 2007

    @Matt regarding #76,

    Beautiful! I agree with Sastra OM’s point about paragraph breaks. I suggest a break in the first paragraph so that “Principles of evolutionary theory ..” forms a new paragraph.

    In a way, I envy you (not just for your eloquent prose) because Oregon is just *so* darn BORING! Here is the take on ID from the Oregon Department of Education: http://www.ode.state.or.us/news/announcements/announcement.aspx?=2588. The last clown that tried to teach IDC (earlier this year) was terminated – beats being lynched by outraged parents. All we have is the newspaper editorial section (when some yahoo does a “Linda”).

    I really have to hope Florida rationality perseveres and your odds for the next trial take a dive – we in Oregon welcome progressive industry and it would be delightful to see big bucks pouring in from Texas to investigate a wave alternative energy source when that state goes goddidit: http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/wesrf/

  10. #10 Matt
    December 12, 2007

    BTW, I have to say that this is my first foray into “activism” and it feels good. After reading “Kingdom Coming” and reading this site, Dawkins’ site, and others like them, I feel moved to get off my ass and do something. I can no longer sit by while these morons quietly take over the country and ruin everything. Thanks to all of you who have set the example.

  11. #11 secondclass
    December 18, 2007

    Egnor reads Myers, but nothing sinks in:

    Here’s my suggestion for the answer to the question “Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories in public schools in Florida?”:

    The people of Florida, through their elected school boards.

    Darwinists like Myers find democracy so frustrating.

    Here’s a scenario for Egnor: You tell one of your patients that he needs surgery or he’ll die. He demurs, saying that he wants to first put it to a vote and let the people decide whether the surgery is necessary. That’s democratized science, and doctors who advocate it should lose their license.

  12. #12 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    You should know better, PZ. The significant question isn’t “Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories?” but “Who is best qualified to determine what is taught to children?” and my answer to that question is – certainly nobody who deliberately seeks to shut down discussion, and certainly nobody who doesn’t have sufficient philosophical insight to realise that philosophical materialism is a matter of presuppositions, not an empirically derived truth.

    I object to the half-baked ideas that some children in Christian families have about evolution, and try and give them more accurate knowledge. But then, I object to people who think that materialism works because it says so in “The God Delusion” – a book every bit as half-baked as the worst creationist material, but which for too many people has virtually the standing of Scripture. The solution isn’t greater polarisation or greater censorship, but more informed discussion.

  13. #13 MartinM
    December 19, 2007

    certainly nobody who deliberately seeks to shut down discussion

    Who’s doing that, then? Certainly not supporters of evolution, who have been inviting discussion in peer-reviewed journals for quite some time.

    certainly nobody who doesn’t have sufficient philosophical insight to realise that philosophical materialism is a matter of presuppositions, not an empirically derived truth.

    And who would that be? Clearly, you can’t be referring to the supporters of evolution, who represent a broad range of philosophical positions.

  14. #14 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    “supporters of evolution who have been inviting discussion in peer-reviewed journals for quite some time.”

    Right. Like the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, perhaps? Where there was little engagement with the actual paper published, but plenty of attempt to do for the editor? Or getting noted opponents of ID to review books published by proponents of ID? What exactly do you mean by “discussion”? Philosophical naturalism rules the debate about possible external agency off-limits before any discussion can even start – despite the fact that (as I have pointed out) it isn’t an empirical truth: it’s a presupposition.

    “…you can’t be referring to supporters of evolution, who represent a broad range of philosophical positions.” No, I’m referring to those people who can’t see beyond philosophical materialism. But if the hat fits, wear it. To allow such religious/philosophical dogmatists – whether scientists or artists – to determine the content of school curricula is as much your feared ideocracy as allowing fundamentalist religionists to.

  15. #15 Kseniya
    December 19, 2007

    Sure, Paul, except for one detail: evolution is a robust scientific theory, and ID is not. It’s not even “a theory in crisis.” Your argument is specious.

  16. #16 MartinM
    December 19, 2007

    Like the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, perhaps?

    Have you ever read it?

    Where there was little engagement with the actual paper published, but plenty of attempt to do for the editor?

    Leaving aside the fact that the content of the paper was indeed discussed in detail, in what sense ‘do for?’ Couldn’t fire him, since it was his last issue anyway. Nothing happened to him at the Smithsonian, beyond some unkind comments in e-mail behind his back.

    Or getting noted opponents of ID to review books published by proponents of ID?

    So what?

    What exactly do you mean by “discussion”?

    That would be the kind of discussion which begins with doing some fucking research, then publishing it through the normal channels.

    Philosophical naturalism…

    …is still a red herring. The supporters of evolution still represent a broad spectrum of philosophical positions, so trying to argue against one subgroup when all are in agreement on the points of relevance is still utterly dishonest.

  17. #17 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    Yes, I read the PBSW paper. And for what it’s worth, I read the PT response – which interestingly didn’t make it into a peer-reviewed paper of the sort in which you are saying discussion should take place. And I read the responses to PT as well, for that matter. Panda’s Thumb left me unconvinced.

    “Nothing … beyond some unkind comments and emails behind his back.” Well, kudos for acknowledging that much. Watch out that PZ doesn’t strike you down for being a collaborator, though.

    “So what?” Well, perhaps a little “NPOV” (which isn’t really possible in such a contentious area, but there are people who could take a balanced perspective) would mean that reviews concentrated on the substance of the book, rather than recycled spin relating to legal disputes. That might lead to proper and reasoned analysis, and perhaps even move discussion forward, rather than trying to prevent other people from understanding what is being talked about.

    As for fucking research, I don’t believe they give grants to hard scientists for it – try an anthropology department. However, since the PBSW paper hasn’t evoked discussion of the sort that you claim is desirable, and it resulted in huge pressure on the editor and the board, I’m not convinced by darwinist protestations that this is what they’d like to see.

    Philosophical naturalism is completely not a red herring – it is the heart of the debate. I have absolutely no problem as a Christian with an education system which looks at different philosophical presuppositions, their epistemological implications and how this impacts people’s understanding of the universe. I have a huge problem with an education system that presents teaching with only one philosophical presupposition, and asserts that it is the only valid one. That is what PZ (and presumably you) so fear will come about in the southern states. It is what I and others fear when I hear people like you saying that you want to dictate how things are taught in schools.

  18. #18 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    “Evolution is a robust scientific theory, and ID is not.” Careful with terms, here. What do you mean by “theory”?

  19. #19 Kseniya
    December 19, 2007

    You can’t be serious.

  20. #21 Kseniya
    December 19, 2007

    Bah. Of course you are right. I was being lazy because of time constraints.

    In this context, I mean “theory” in the sense of a testable or otherwise falsifiable model (or collection of related models) constructed to explain some natural phenomema.

  21. #22 Steve LaBonne
    December 19, 2007

    And I would add that as the words are commonly used, a hypothesis needs to undergo quite a lot of rigorous testing before it begins to be spoken of as a theory.

    ID is not even a hypothesis- its actual content is elusive at best. There’s not anything specific enough to test. No actual ID hypothesis will come into being until the IDiots start to venture specific testable predictions about the nature and mode of action of the “designer”. Of course they can’t and won’t because the whole enterprise is merely a legal / political fig leaf for attempts the smuggle religion into the public schools, and was deliberately made as vague and evasive as humanly possible in the vain hope that it could avoid meeting the same fate as “creation science”.

  22. #23 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    I am aware of the political implications of ID in the US – with your stupid lawyer-friendly system of saying that anything “religious” is against the first amendment – nothing of course to do with whether or not something is true!! Your constitution is basically excellent; the way it is abused is crass. Further, it is very convenient for you to paint ID as religious, as it means you don’t have to bother engaging with the actual debate – “Irreducible complexity? The unique location that is earth? It’s all religion, and we can’t talk about that. And children can’t be taught about it, because it’s against the first amendment.” Yaaaaawn. And what makes it religion? The fact that external agency is required – which is precisely the point at stake. So you are using constitutional means to prevent the issue from being considered – without even having to weigh up the arguments. Neat! Just don’t kid yourself that what you are doing is scientific.

    Well, bright children should learn critical thinking rather than legal procedure. But it’s very difficult to hear the debate over the sirens of materialism and religious fundamentalism.

    Evolution is a strong theory, in the terms in which you describe it. I’m not disputing that. However, there are key areas in which the evidence doesn’t support it. These aren’t “gaps” in the sense of loose ends just waiting to be tied up, but fundamental discontinuities that simply defy materialistic explanation. Belief that they can be explained derives not from an analysis of the problem or processes, but from the presupposition that non-materialistic processes have to be excluded – i.e. philosophical naturalism. That isn’t science. And that’s what people need to know, because it provides reassurance that belief in a god is no more or less rational than lack of belief in one.

  23. #24 Steve LaBonne
    December 19, 2007

    “Irreducible complexity” has been discussed to death by actual biologists. If one accepts that the term even has any meaning, then it is simply and flatly false that “irreducibly complex” objects cannot evolve. Behe and his acolytes simply ignore the evidence to the contrary. See: http://tinyurl.com/3a85yz

    And you obviously wouldn’t be able to recognize good science if it upped and bit you in the ass.

  24. #25 Rey Fox
    December 19, 2007

    “Further, it is very convenient for you to paint ID as religious, as it means you don’t have to bother engaging with the actual debate”

    Oh, it’s been engaged. Again and again and again.

    “Irreducible complexity?”

    Thoroughly debunked.

    “The unique location that is earth?”

    Banal, doesn’t take into account the inhospitability of most of the earth’s surface to human life, nor the inhospitability of the rest of the universe. Has nothing to do with evolution to begin with.

    “So you are using constitutional means to prevent the issue from being considered”

    Oh, it’s considered by many people. What makes you so insistant on teaching it to children, though? Even some ID proponents don’t think it’s robust enough to teach in high school. And don’t kids get enough claptrap about how the earth was created by a magical Sky Daddy in church?

    “And what makes it religion?”

    The vacuousness of it, the total lack of testible claims, the Goddidit cop-out. Oh, and the Wedge Document. You’ve heard of that, right?

    “because it provides reassurance that belief in a god is no more or less rational than lack of belief in one.”

    Sure it provides reassurance, doesn’t mean it’s true, though. Disbelief in things that leave no evidence seems perfectly rational to me.

  25. #26 Steve LaBonne
    December 19, 2007

    Even some ID proponents don’t think it’s robust enough to teach in high school.

    Yes, there is that- just like that clown in Dover, our buddy Paul hasn’t gotten the official DI memo that ID isn’t quite ready for prime time and that they really only want the supposed “weaknesses” of evolutionary theory taught. (Maybe by now the party line has shifted yet again, I don’t know.)

  26. #27 secondclass
    December 19, 2007

    Paul:

    I object to people who think that materialism works because it says so in “The God Delusion”

    And who, pray tell, would that be? Or are you just making things up?

    Tell you what, if anyone tries to include The God Delusion in a high school science curriculum, I’ll stand right beside you in objecting to it.

  27. #28 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    You’re right, I am making things up.

    In actual fact, of course, whilst there are still some who think that way (see Amazon reviews as evidence) a significant number of people who had appreciated Dawkins’ work hitherto stepped off the bus with “The God Delusion”. (“Did you read the ‘God Delusion’? Pile of shite, wasn’t it? And I love RD.” Plus all those “I’m an atheist but …” people that Dawkins is so angry with in the preface to the paperback edition.) TGD is evidence of the vacuousness of the reasoning coming from philosophical materialists. If you want me to take you seriously when you say that you ought to be deciding what to teach people, then I want to see you acknowledge the fact that Richard Dawkins has messed up in speaking about things he knows little about and hasn’t bothered to adequately research. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you barely have sufficient ability to critically engage to be considered eligible for voting.

  28. #29 MAJeff
    December 19, 2007

    belief in a god is no more or less rational than lack of belief in one.

    BZZZZT.

  29. #30 Steve_C
    December 19, 2007

    Belief in Thor is more rational than belief in the generic god.

    Thor has a hammer. God has a beard. Big deal.

  30. #31 Paul
    December 20, 2007

    Steve_C: How do you know God has a beard? How do you know he (if you are referring to the Judaeo-Christian deity) is “the generic god”? ITWSBT.

  31. #32 Steve LaBonne
    December 20, 2007

    Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you barely have sufficient ability to critically engage to be considered eligible for voting.

    Since your remarks above have already established that you’re an ignorant git with the reasoning power of the average cabbage, your opinion is worth precisely nothing.

  32. #33 MartinM
    December 20, 2007

    Yes, I read the PBSW paper.

    I didn’t mean the paper, but rather the journal; I’m wondering if you thought the Meyer paper was out of place.

    And for what it’s worth, I read the PT response – which interestingly didn’t make it into a peer-reviewed paper of the sort in which you are saying discussion should take place.

    The peer-reviewed literature is not the beginning and end of science, but it is a vital component. The absence of any serious research on the ID side is telling.

    Well, kudos for acknowledging that much.

    As far as I’m aware, that’s all there is to acknowledge.

    However, since the PBSW paper hasn’t evoked discussion of the sort that you claim is desirable, and it resulted in huge pressure on the editor and the board, I’m not convinced by darwinist protestations that this is what they’d like to see.

    Well, for one, it was a review paper. But more obviously, I should think it clear that when we say we want to see ID propnents publishing in peer-reviewed journals, we mean we want to see them raise their game so that their papers pass legitimate peer-review, not that we want them to find an ID-friendly editor who is willing to bypass the usual procedures.

    Philosophical naturalism is completely not a red herring – it is the heart of the debate. I have absolutely no problem as a Christian with an education system which looks at different philosophical presuppositions, their epistemological implications and how this impacts people’s understanding of the universe.

    And that’s exactly my point. Scientists hold a wide range of philosophical positions, and yet almost all in the relevant fields accept evolution. Thus, as far as biological science goes, clearly their philosophical positions do not impact their understanding of the Universe. Which is why this:

    I have a huge problem with an education system that presents teaching with only one philosophical presupposition, and asserts that it is the only valid one.

    …is simply wrong. Teaching evolution and not ID does not mean teaching philosophical naturalism. Theistic evolutionists are proof enough of that.

  33. #34 Kseniya
    December 20, 2007

    Your constitution is basically excellent; the way it is abused is crass.

    I wonder if Paul even realizes the truth of this. Surely not, given that he thinks that Dover is evidence of it. I wonder if he knows that even adults who think that Jesus rode a T-Rex and that the earth is 6,000 years old are eligible to vote. Surely not, given that he thinks that siding with him on TGD should be a criterion for voter eligibility in a country he’s probably never even visited.

    Paul wants philosophers to decide what to teach in science, and for scientists to just shut up.

  34. #35 MartinM
    December 20, 2007

    So you are using constitutional means to prevent the issue from being considered – without even having to weigh up the arguments.

    The first amendment only proscribes what government and its officers can do. As far as ID is concerned, it only comes into play when someone tries to use a political position to bypass the usual channels of scientific discussion and take ID directly to young children. This is not how science is usually done, oddly enough.

  35. #36 Paul
    December 20, 2007

    “The first amendment only proscribes what government and its officers can do.” And your lawyers have come to the conclusion that teachers in public schools are officers of the government. What if the government were to behave as though that was the case? Doesn’t that bug you a bit? It would terrify me. But then, the thought that the government claims the right to know what books I borrow from the public library would bring me out in the streets, and you lot just seem to have swallowed it. “Home of the free”, eh?

    “Paul wants philosophers to decide what to teach in science, and for scientists to just shut up.” Not exactly. Decisions about the nature of curriculum should not be the province of one group – philosophers or scientists. And decisions about such things should be subject to democratic control. This is really important. If you can persuade people of the truth of your position, then you will get the mandate you seek. If you can’t, then why should you have the right to disregard their will? Why, fundamentally, do you think you have a constitution? It’s not to ensure that you have the best form of government – it’s to prevent any group (including materialist scientists) taking too much power. That’s what the checks and balances are for. “Democracy is the worst form of government – apart from all the others.” If somebody is ignorant, then why mock them? Why not teach them?

    As for me, I’m really not bothered whether you think I’m an ignorant git. I don’t give a fig what is taught in US public schools, actually. I don’t believe all the spin from the pro-ID side, any more than I believe the spin from your side. I just want to know the truth, and I’m fed up with people with vested interests refusing to engage the debate – and why? Perhaps because they are afraid they might lose? Perhaps because they think that even acknowledging the good points of the other person’s argument might be viewed as a sign of weakness?

    The fact is, the more contempt you express for the “ignorant” people who think differently to you, the more you will appear to be extremists and fundamentalists.

  36. #37 Steve LaBonne
    December 20, 2007

    I just want to know the truth

    Then you need to make the mental effort to understand the science. Thus far you either couldn’t or wouldn’t, otherwise you would be unable to say completely stupid things such as

    I don’t believe all the spin from the pro-ID side, any more than I believe the spin from your side.

    Such lazy split-it-down-the-middle anti-intellectualism is the very opposite of truth-seeking.

  37. #38 Steve_C
    December 20, 2007

    They’re ignorant because they don’t UNDERSTAND.

    I’m ignorant about alot of things… but I don’t have an opinion of those things and think the need to be debated.

  38. #39 Rey Fox
    December 20, 2007

    “Decisions about the nature of curriculum should not be the province of one group – philosophers or scientists.”

    The hell it shouldn’t.

    “If you can’t, then why should you have the right to disregard their will?”

    Because they’re wrong. Sorry if that makes you feel bad. Polls have shown up to 75% of people in America believe in angels, and somewhere around 40% believe the world was created less than 10,000 years ago. If we were to make it a point to limit ourselves to only teaching everyone’s comfortable delusions, we would never make it anywhere as a society. We can’t vote on our reality.

    “If somebody is ignorant, then why mock them? Why not teach them?”

    Those who have the willingness to learn and be taught shall be taught. Many don’t. There is such a thing as willful ignorance. Many want to make that into policy.

  39. #40 MartinM
    December 20, 2007

    And your lawyers have come to the conclusion that teachers in public schools are officers of the government.

    More precisely, teachers are ‘under colour of law,’ meaning that, in their official capacity, their actions carry the imprimatur of office. This is largely because the law requires children to be educated, and the curricula of state schools are determined through the political process. If you understand why it is inappropriate for teachers in state schools to teach YEC, you should understand why the same argument applies to ID.

    My spelling might tip you off to the fact that they’re not my lawyers, incidentally.

  40. #41 Paul
    December 20, 2007

    “Because they’re wrong. Sorry if that makes you feel bad. Polls have shown up to 75% of people in America believe in angels …”

    How do you know angels don’t exist? How do you know those people are wrong?

    Because you haven’t seen one? Have you seen the black hole in the middle of our galaxy? Have you seen the solid core of the earth? Do you believe it exists?

    Because they are logically impossible? How?

    Because belief in them is against your presuppositions? How do you know your presuppositions are correct? How do you KNOW?

    You think these people should be disenfranchised, basically, because you think they are intellectually incompetent – fundamentally because they believe in things that you don’t. But I don’t believe that in real terms, you have any basis for choosing between your beliefs and theirs. And furthermore, the reason nations are given constitutions is to prevent a tyranny by the strong over the weak. If you can’t persuade them, then you certainly have no moral authority to rule them, unless you are prepared to embrace tyranny. And if so – well, “Goodbye all you Neo-Nazis, I hope they give you Auschwitz” – MacPhisto.

    Put it another way. Do you think those people have the right to tell you what to believe? So why do you think it’s acceptable to tell them what to believe?

  41. #42 Steve LaBonne
    December 20, 2007

    I haven’t seen electrons either, dumbass. But I wouldn’t be able to post this comment without them. Do you understand ANYTHING at all about science? Evidently not.

  42. #43 thalarctos
    December 20, 2007

    You think these people should be disenfranchised, basically, because you think they are intellectually incompetent – fundamentally because they believe in things that you don’t.

    You’re the only one who’s argued that particular position:

    Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you barely have sufficient ability to critically engage to be considered eligible for voting.

    Projecting much?

    And if so – well, “Goodbye all you Neo-Nazis, I hope they give you Auschwitz” – MacPhisto.

    Do I smell burning martyr?

    As pointed out, *you’re* the only one arguing for disenfranchising opponents and wishing evil to be visited upon them.

    And as sanctimonious as you may personally feel about it, comparing the refusal to teach your nonsense in public schools to large-scale genocide really is insane.

  43. #44 Jake Boyman
    December 20, 2007

    How do you know angels don’t exist? How do you know those people are wrong?
    Because you haven’t seen one? Have you seen the black hole in the middle of our galaxy? Have you seen the solid core of the earth? Do you believe it exists?
    Because they are logically impossible? How?
    Because belief in them is against your presuppositions? How do you know your presuppositions are correct? How do you KNOW?

    Behold the future of Western fundamentalism: total postmodernism. All facts are equally valid, no idea is any more true than any other. Therefore, let’s all vote on what reality is!

    “HOW DO YOU KNOW THE EARTH ISN’T 6,000 YEARS OLD? WERE YOU *THERE*???”

    Let’s be very glad Paul will never be put in charge of American school curricula.

  44. #45 Paul
    December 21, 2007

    *Sigh* You have obviously learnt nothing in philosophical terms from Kant onwards. I am not a postmodernist – postmodernism isn’t even able to support itself. BUT the reason postmodernism came along was because it became apparent that modernism didn’t really work either. Had modernism provided a satisfactory metanarrative, do you really think that all those university philosophy departments would have been able to find anything to do for the last 150 years? (Yes, I’m sure you consider them to be a waste of time – that’s a pretty typical reaction from somebody who is ignorant and can’t be bothered to learn.) And yet you continue to behave as though the modernist metanarrative is the only game in town.

    Jake, I am not saying that all beliefs (which is what I assume you mean, rather than facts) are equally valid. What I am saying is that if you want your view to be taken seriously, you’ll have to do better in analysing alternatives than, “You’re stupid! You believe in angels! We say this – so we are right. So what we say should be taken seriously and what you say should be ignored.” To which the obvious question is: why? And the answer, ultimately, will come back to your presuppositions, which are not shared by other people. There is nothing inherently more right about the naturalist metanarrative – because all metanarratives are fundamentally faith positions, with other observations being interpreted in the light of them, rather than supporting or not supporting them.

    For example, you possibly believe that a quantum fluctuation brought about the existence of space, time and energy. I don’t believe that this is reasonable – the scope of “something out of nothing” that we see in the universe is seriously limited, and such an event represents a major scientific discontinuity, which invalidates science as a suitable tool for analysing it. You interpret your observation (of the effects of the big bang) in accordance with your naturalistic presupposition – that it can’t require external agency. But you can hardly say that the big bang supports a naturalistic perspective – it is simply a phenomenon that you are treating as a natural event. I interpret it in accordance with my presuppositions – that what we observe requires creation. Now, you say there is no evidence of a God – but in actual fact, that is because for all phenomena that suggest a requirement for external agency, you choose to believe instead in a naturalistic explanation. Your interpretation of the phenomena isn’t “more right” – it’s just one that happens to fit with your presuppositions. Unless you can make a convincing case that the presuppositions are inconsistent – AND THERE ARE MUCH BETTER QUALIFIED PEOPLE THAN YOU – OR DAWKINS! – WHO HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DO THIS FOR 200 YEARS! – then you have no grounds for saying that my belief in external agency – or the belief of 75% of the US population in angels – is wrong.

  45. #46 Steve LaBonne
    December 21, 2007

    Add philosophy to the list of subjects about which Paul knows less than nothing but about which he is not thereby deterred from bloviating.

  46. #47 thalarctos
    December 21, 2007

    You have obviously learnt nothing in philosophical terms from Kant onwards.

    Yeah, I must have missed the part where they advocate disenfranchising scientists, calling your opponents Neo-Nazis, and wishing Auschwitz on them.

  47. #48 Paul
    December 21, 2007

    thalarctos: Oh, don’t be so precious. Or so spinny.

    I don’t advocate disenfranchising anybody, although I am concerned about the contempt in which the majority of the US population is held by people here – at least my beliefs demand that I respect other humans simply on the basis of their humanity; that doesn’t seem to be the case for most of the people who have commented here.

    And I didn’t call you neo-nazis, or wish Auschwitz on you. Firstly it was a quote, and secondly what I was referring to, if you look at the context, was people who are prepared to assert their views by force on other people. If the hat doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. (But on the other hand, if you are prepared to force your opinions on people who don’t want them, maybe the hat does fit? How far are you prepared to go, given your conviction about how right you are? PZ has certainly come up with some fruity statements in the past…)

    Incidentally, by “disenfranchising” I didn’t simply mean removing the right to vote, although that is the dictionary definition, and represents the most important aspect of what I was talking about. I meant, more broadly withdrawing the right to participate in a democracy – I don’t have a better word than that – if you have one, let me know. As far as I’m concerned, the assertion here that non-scientists are incompetent to decide what should be part of a curriculum is an aspect of disenfranchisement, and that was why I talked about what is needed of somebody to vote.

  48. #49 Steve_C
    December 21, 2007

    Not non-scientists… CREATIONISTS shouldn’t be allowed to determine what science is taught.

  49. #50 Kseniya
    December 21, 2007

    [* makes a mental note on the distinction between “non-scientist” and “anti-scientist” *]

  50. #51 thalarctos
    December 21, 2007

    Firstly it was a quote, and secondly what I was referring to, if you look at the context, was people who are prepared to assert their views by force on other people. If the hat doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. (But on the other hand, if you are prepared to force your opinions on people who don’t want them, maybe the hat does fit? How far are you prepared to go, given your conviction about how right you are? PZ has certainly come up with some fruity statements in the past…)

    Who’s up for a game of “Count the Fallacies”?

    I see 3: well-poisoning, guilt-by-association, and slippery-slope.

    Anyone else get more than 3?

  51. #52 Rey Fox
    December 21, 2007

    “I don’t advocate disenfranchising anybody, although I am concerned about the contempt in which the majority of the US population is held by people here- at least my beliefs demand that I respect other humans simply on the basis of their humanity; that doesn’t seem to be the case for most of the people who have commented here.”

    You’re certainly a sensitive one. We can all respect people for being people, for doing what they can to navigate their lives just as we do. That doesn’t mean we have to respect all of their ideas. The world is not 6,000 years old. There’s no real scientific reason to believe that some intelligent agent created everything. There’s plenty of evidence for evolution. People can believe whatever goofy stuff they want to in their free time, but as long as we’re charged to teach science, we’re going to teach the best available science. ID is not that. And with their all-consuming focus on classroom obfuscation and talks at churches, it’s not likely to become the best of science.

    (And with regards to angels, no I haven’t seen one, I’ve never seen pictures of one, few people can even agree on what they are, they steadfastly refuse to subject them to any kind of hard scientific inquiry, and the sort of things attributed to angels can be much more easily attributed to other things that we know exist. Plus, the manner in which angels operate is rather curiously in line with the sort of things that the people who see them wish to see in their own lives. Nobody claims that the black hole at the center of the galaxy has any direct effect on their actual lives (makes them better people, saved them from walking in front of that bus) other than the gravitational influence it exerts.)

    (By the way, did I ever tell you about the dragon in my garage?)

    “But on the other hand, if you are prepared to force your opinions on people who don’t want them, maybe the hat does fit?”

    Yes. We want to FORCE science on people as part of the great Darwinist Reich. And by the way, drama queens will be the first ones in the gas chambers.

  52. #53 Paul
    December 24, 2007

    You have a dragon in your garage? How cool is that!

    The whole approach that says that everything can be reduced to the observable and measurable – the scientific – fails to deal with the universe as it is. There’s this image that somebody suggested a few days ago, of a person looking for his keys under a streetlight. Somebody suggested to him that they might not be under the light, but he responded that he was looking under the light because he could see there.

    You have reduced your analysis of the universe to naturalistic phenomena “because you can see there”, and then concluded that that is all there is. To argue that the work of Shakespeare is no more than a guy particularly successful at one means of trying to score with women – or that human creation and imagination is no more than a slightly more sophisticated version of termites building a nest – or that there is no evidence that complexity is more than the product of chance and time – or that our appreciation of the universe is just an anthropic coincidence – or that our concern for truth, justice, fairness, decency is just an evolutionary strategy of our selfish (anthropomorphising) genes – all of these things look to me like a wilful rejection of the obvious – that there is more to life than naturalism.

    This isn’t “unscientific” – it’s just pointing out that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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