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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dover or Do over?

An editorial regarding the Dover Trial appeared in the Chicago Sun Times today. The article is in bold and interspersed with my comments in regular text.

Dover chalks one up for common sense

Sure, if by common sense you mean being misinformed and/or intentionally lying and spreading propoganda.

Someone should put a muzzle on Pat Robertson. After suggesting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated, the televangelist now has turned his rhetorical sights on the sound-minded residents of Dover, Pa., who recently rejected all eight school board members seeking re-election. The board had introduced intelligent design into science classes, the first school district in the nation to do so, and the community responded by voting them out of office.

In Robertson's estimation, this is a repudiation of God: "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city." Robertson's comment was outrageous and extreme, as his comments usually are, but it reflects an unfortunate philosophical divide in this country that appears to be widening each year.

No disagreement about Robertson, I have made my view clear on this matter in a previous post. I’m willing to bet a sweeping generalization in service to an argumentum ad hominem fallacy is the real purpose of mentioning him though.

Ever since the Scopes monkey trial 80 years ago in Tennessee, the teaching of evolution in our public schools has been an impassioned issue for many evangelical conservatives who insist Darwin was misguided and his theories immoral. Their argument is that the universe is too complicated to be a result of natural selection, and must be the work of a powerful creator.

Yep, generalization number one. There are agnostics and people of other faiths that are ID proponents. Furthermore, there is the young earth creation view that some hold to in Christian circles as well as Theistic evoloution held by others. But don't let details get in the way of proudly committing an error in reasoning.

The author doesn't really do a very good job defining Intelligent Design either.

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

As is often the case in issues like this, extremists like Robertson are the ones who get most of the attention.

Gee, you think that might have something to do with you mentioning him in the first paragraph?

But there are many religious leaders who are able to find common ground between their belief in God and an appreciation for scientific advancements, such as evolution. Earlier this month, a Vatican cardinal, musing on Galileo's ex-communication for believing that Earth revolved around the sun, warned: "The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity." Another Vatican leader, Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, repeated Pope John Paul II's statement that evolution is "more than a hypothesis because there is proof."

Nothing like following generalizations with the sin of omission. The current Pope made an interesting comment recently on this matter.

The Pope on Creation
Pope Benedict XVI has waded into the evolution debate in the United States, saying the universe was made as an "intelligent project" and criticizing those who say its creation was without direction.

Benedict's comments, made during his general audience on Wednesday, were published Thursday.

The pope focused on scriptural readings that said God's love was seen in the "marvels of creation." He quoted St. Basil the Great as saying that some people, "fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance."

There is also the matter of Christoph Schönborn, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna and his editorial that received a lot of attention. He has since tried to clarify his statements somewhat and seperate theology and science. An interesting critique of his original article by a physicist is here. I'll just provide several excerpts, be sure to read the entire article.

So why did Christoph Schönborn, the cardinal archbishop of Vienna, lash out this summer at neo-Darwinism? In an opinion piece for the New York Times on July 7, he reacted indignantly to the suggestion that “the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of ‘evolution’ as used by mainstream biologists—that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.” Brushing off the 1996 statement of John Paul II as “vague and unimportant,” he cited other evidence (including statements by the late pope, sentences from Communion and Stewardship and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and a line from the new Pope Benedict XVI’s installation homily) to make the case that neo-Darwinism is in fact incompatible with Catholic teaching.


If an “inference of chance” as part of the explanation of a phenomenon cannot be ruled out on theological grounds, then the competing claims of neo-Darwinians and their Intelligent Design critics about biological complexity cannot be settled by theology. To their credit, many of the best writers in the Intelligent Design movement, including William Dembski and Michael Behe, also insist the issue is one to be settled scientifically.

Apparently religious people are only useful when agreeing with the author of this article.

Before Dover unseated its school board, a group of concerned citizens took the board to court over the issue of teaching intelligent design in science classes. The case will be decided in January. Meanwhile, the new board is suggesting that intelligent design be taught in philosophy or great religions classes, an appropriate venue for a subject that has no scientific merit.

So, on the ID side – wacky Pat and the bogeyman of “conservative evangelicals” and on the other, concerned citizens, yep, no bias here.

Coincidentally, a similar scenario seems to be playing out in Kansas, but this time the bumpkins are winning.

Must have been difficult hiding the bias for so long. Thanks for making it undeniable.

The Kansas Board of Education recently voted to change the science curriculum, requiring teachers to critique Darwin and offer arguments in tune with intelligent design. Hopefully, rational Kansans will follow the cue of Dover residents and boot the regressives out of office. Religion belongs in church or philosophy courses, not science classrooms.

Aww, You can’t even bring yourself to call them concerned regressives? Oh and now only rational people consider ID to be scientific. Glad to see our objective media at work. This assertion that ID is only religious is based on the claim that ID cannot be tested or falsified. Too bad that Kenneth R. Miller a witness against ID in the Dover trial has actually spent a great deal of time claiming that an argument for ID has been falsified. Dembksi has responded and this is available online and includes a link to Miller's argument.


Darwin's theory, without which nothing in biology is supposed to make sense, in fact offers no insight into how the flagellum arose. If the biological community had even an inkling of how such systems arose by naturalistic mechanisms, Miller would not -- a full six years after the publication of Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe -- be lamely gesturing at the type three secretory system as a possible evolutionary precursor to the flagellum.

With so much scientific effort, by Miller alone, to falsify ID, what can be said of those who still say ID is not falsifiable and is therefore not science? The only options would seem to be they are not very honest or they are very uninformed. In fact, some are now splitting hairs and saying that while the arguments for ID can be tested ID itself cannot. That seems obviously desperate to me. The questions should now be whether or not the tests have actually refuted the arguments for ID, rather than this canard that ID is not science.

Finally, considering that this writer, I would say hack but that would be mean to hacks, is writing about the Dover trial, one has to wonder if they are just lazy or intentionally trying to mislead the reader. This Dover article is most definitely in need of a do over.

Previous posts:

Pat Robertson - shut up!
Intelligent Design - FAQ
Evolution only in public schools?
More evolution only tripe
New York Times - this is reporting?
Intelligent Design - New Yorker editorial - part 1
Intelligent Design - New Yorker editorial - part 2
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