Wait, there's more: "Leading ID think tank calls Dover evolution
policy "misguided, " calls for it to be withdrawn"
stcynic at crystalauto.com
Tue Dec 14 16:08:21 PST 2004
Francis J. Beckwith wrote:
> I think Sandy's right in this regard: the positions that get labeled
> "science" are "knowledge" and religion merely "opinion." In one of the
> ironies of political liberalism (of the Rawlsian sort), these
> distinctions turn out to be argument-stoppers rather than conversation
> starters. The labeling becomes the whole deal rather than quality of
> the arguments offered by the disputants. If I can peg your positon as
> "religious," I have a ready-made exclusionary rule built into the
> process--the establishment clause--that permits me to reject your
> positon without wrestling with it.
Frank, applying this argument, do you think that Edwards v. Aguillard
was wrongly decided? I think it can rather easily be established that
what was called "creation science" in the Louisiana law (and the
Arkansas law dealt with in McLean) was a set of claims about science and
natural history that were demonstrably false (the evidence is
overwhelming that the Earth is not 6000 years old and the geologic
record was not deposited by a global flood) and that were advocated only
because they were viewed as supporting a particular religious doctrine.
Given those facts, is it unreasonable for the court to have said that
requiring the teaching of this idea was an endorsement of a specific
> I'm not saying that is necessarily going on in this PA case, which I
> have not kept up with. Ed could very well be correct that the school
> board's resolution is incoherent drivel. But we should reject it
> because it is incoherent drivel and not because it is "religion."
Well, I think it's incoherent on a couple of different levels. The first
is one on which the DI seems to agree with me, that it is
self-contradictory. In one part of the policy they say that they will
not address the issue of origins at all, while in another they
explicitly refer to ID as a theory of origins. But part of what makes it
incoherent, in my view, is that the ID critique of evolution is itself
incoherent. It's incoherent in the sense that it doesn't actually /say/
anything that can be tested. With the traditional young earthers, you
have a model purported to explain the natural history of the earth and
from that model you can derive hypotheses that can be tested. If all
fossil-bearing strata were deposited in a single global flood, this
premise leads logically to certain conclusions that can then be tested
against the data to ascertain whether it is true or not.
With ID, on the other hand, there is no such model and thus no resulting
statements or predictions that can be used to test its veracity. They do
not tell us who or what the intelligent designer is, or what this
intelligent designer did, at what points in the development of life the
designer might have intervened or how they did so. They seem to accept
common descent to some extent, but insist that at some unspecified time
an unknown designer intervened to do *something*, without knowing what.
Nor has any advocate of ID ever suggested any research that would help
us define any of those undefined aspects of the idea. All of their time
and what little actual research they do is done solely to establish that
there are areas in which evolution does not have a well-defined and
established explanation for a given phenomenon (the bacterial flagellum,
in Behe's famous example, or the blood clotting cascade), with the
implication being that if evolution hasn't yet explained how it
happened, a supernatural intelligence must have done....well,
/something/. It's a classic god of the gaps argument, it seems to me. If
they ever actually come up with a positive way to test ID - as opposed
to attempts to show evolution is an inadequate explanation - then
perhaps this "theory" could be taken seriously as an alternative to
evolution. But there is no such test, and no such model from which such
a test might be derived. There simply isn't a coherent theory here to teach.
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