Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

From ABC News:
WASHINGTON Aug 2, 2005President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss “intelligent design” alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” Bush said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

OK, this proves that Bush is a nut-job.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “science” as: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Science is the attempt to observe, and formulate through those observations, a rational explanation for the observations. It is by nature contrary to the primitive attempts to explain things by recourse to magic. Science rejects magical intervention, looking for reasonable explanations for what is observed.

“Intelligent Design” is an attempt to roll magic back into scientific study. It is not only religion, of the same order as tribal shamans trying to explain the the changing of the seasons, it is the epitome of hubris, in that it assumes that because some things may not be explainable now, that they will never be explainable. Are we really ready to claim we have learned all we can learn about the universe?

So called “Intelligent Design” is also not science, in that it can never be tested – no experiment can be run, no observations can be made, which will prove it to be true. It is a mask for religious teaching, pure and simple.

I have a bargain for those who champion this – Don’t teach your religion in the public schools where I send my children, and I promise I won’t think in your churches.

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All I’m able to read in this is that he feels educational institutions should expose people to different ideas (maybe as apposed to indoctrinating them) and that he is able to define the concept of intelligent design.

Recently read a couple of books that I’m sure you would really like. Zoology prof named Bernd Heinrich … a real scientist and great writer … lot of evolutional reference …. Would highly recommend A YEAR IN THE MAINE WOODS.


OK, let’s see if I can make my position clear. ID claims that the world is simply too complicated to have happened randomly, and that therefore there must be a higher power behind it.

That argument in and of itself is circular. If you argue that things which are sufficiently complex presuppose a creator, who created the creator? He must be more complex than his creation, and therefore must, by being that complex, have required a creator himself.

As you know, I have no problem with the concept of God as a higher power, sufficiently close to infinite that I cannot define him/her/it. I also do not have any problem assuming that this power somehow had a hand in creation.

What I object to is teaching this belief as a form of “science.” Science is the attempt through observation and hypothesis to come up with an explanation for reality, and to test that hypothesis/expanation through experimentation. Recourse to an explanation on the order of “and then a miracle happened” is the antithesis of science. Will we also teach magic as an alternative to readily explainable phenomemena, or astrology as a possible alternative to cause and effect?

Most mainline churches, including Catholicism, all branches of Judaism, and almost all branches of protestantism have accepted evolution, as simply part of God’s plan for the creation of life. This is a reasonable coexistance of faith and science, and implies no
contradiction. The faith aspect lies completely outside the science.

I would welcome a comparative religion course in our schools, especially given the current world situation. ID, or creationism, certainly would have a place in such a curriculum. I also have a strong preference/belief in a particular theological worldview, but I cannot accept teaching that as science. Until we can scientifically validate a creation theory (myth) we cannot teach one, either incomparison to others, or as a scientific principle. To teach ID as an alternative to evolution is mixing the two.

In this post I cited statistics on creationist beliefs among those involved in the life sciences.

The fact that anyone is willing to accept ID as a scientific theory (rhater than a theological belief) can only be an indictment of the educational system in this country.

I’m going to contribute a slightly tangential point, as I’m wont to do…

Related (somewhat) to this is the increasing focus (in computer science and related disciplines) of treating commercial products and specific implementations as valid subjects of study. Alan Kay, developer of Smalltalk and well-known in the industry, quipped

…I fear — as far as I can tell — that most undergraduate degrees in computer science these days are basically Java vocational training.

The common thread is what makes a subject worthy of study – its mere existence, or attributes that make some fundamental contribution to human knowledge. Judged thusly, both ID and Java fail. Both, however, might be worthy as examples which students could use to exercise their knowledge of a real discipline; programming language structure in the case of Java, and the validity of scientific theory in the case of ID. ID would be an interesting problem on which to fire various probabilistic models of life and genetic variation.

Sadly, this also demonstrates common confusion in the meaning of the word “theory” – the scientific kind is unrelated to the common usage as “unverified and unverifiable opinion.”

Settle down …..

I agree with most of what you say …. I was just trying to say that your citation, as presented, didn’t lead to the “proof” that he is a “nut-job”.
I’m not a big fan of “W” or, for that matter, the vast majority of our “representatives”. As for evolution, I am a lifelong believer. Get the book, there are some great references to evolutionary adaptations in different life forms as well as a refreshing exposure to basic things. I’m sure you will love this guy and find in his writings some stuff that might well be inspirational for your scouting charges.


A few comments in one –
On this new blog software, certain forms of comment will trigger me to review them before allowing them to post. Not having an email address or name is one condition, more than two links in the email is another. Whatever you two did to trigger, the delay in the comments showing up was not intended as a slight, just me learning how to run a much more sophisticated blog package.

Eric – Good to hear from you again, I always enjoy your comments. I kept looking at your old blog, being upset that there were no posts since april – I’ll have to update my links!

Dad -

I agree pretty much with all you have to say, and perhaps “nut-job” was a bit of an overstatement. W was probably trying not to offend one of his two base groups. I do have an issue with someone using appealing pseudo-science to advance a political cause. About 50 years or so ago some 5 million people died because the pseudo-science of Aryan superiority and Jewish inferiority was used to justify mass-murder (and tremendous profit, coincidentally).

I did a quick lookup on the author of that book, and he seems to be a gem. I’m planning on picking it up when I get a chance.

If you would like to see a politician I can get behind, see Tom has been interning for his campaign this summer. He is running in the democratic primary for congress in my district, with the hope of challenging the one term republican rep in 06. Patrick Murphy is someone I can really respect. He served in Bosnia, and later in Iraq, where he earned a bronze star. He was the youngest teacher ever at West Point, teaching constitutional law. An amazing man, and despite his military background, stands for nearly all of what I believe in.

Anyway, good to hear from you. I’ll be spending next week at scout camp, then taking Tom back to Pittsburgh, so the next 11 days or so are going to be pretty busy.

Nice to see your new posts and new software – I like it. I moved to and like it a great deal – so easy to use. One of these days I’ll bother with my own site, just haven’t had the need. Needless to say, in geek company, I’m the have-not they all look down on. :-)

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