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The Forum > Article Comments > A parentís perspective on intelligent design > Comments

A parentís perspective on intelligent design : Comments

By Jane Caro, published 10/11/2005

Jane Caro argues children should learn the difference between faith and reason: intelligent design and the theory of evolution.

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Nice piece, Jane, clear and simple. Only one comment. It was Karl Popper who argued that 'falsification', not 'verification', is the true scientific process. That is, when you have a 'eureka' moment, and think you're on to something really important, what you ought to do is to try and knock down your hypothesis. Really good scientists (indeed, really good researchers of any kind) do their best to do this. But the power of what is already 'known' is strong: witness the late success of the medical scientists who showed that bacteria were deeply associated with ulcers. Yes, they got the Nobel for it, but getting on for thirty years later. In the beginning they were ridiculed. Current wisdom always has a lot of defensive barriers around it, if only because, as you say, it can be very hard really to falsify a proposition. That is why all knowledge is 'contingent' ó we can never be sure that future discoveries will not falsify what we currently think to be true.
Posted by Don Aitkin, Thursday, 10 November 2005 10:47:17 AM
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Exactly Don,
the 'ridicule' you speak of is a frequent characteristic of this forum. It manifests usually from those who prefer not to engage with 'issues' but who delight in name calling to prop up an entrenched uninformed position.

USA BREAKING NEWS.
The news today reported on how Kansas had thrown out 'ID' as a curriculum item, BUT...and it's a crucial but, which is pretty much the best we ID proponents would ever hope to achieve, and that is that they will now be teaching 'The Controversy'.. AT LAST.....

PHILOSOPHY/IMPLICATIONS
I would add just one point to still hope for, that they will also teach the philosophical/moral ramifications of an 'atheistic' and a 'Creation' position.

A little bit of pre-suppositional apologetics would also not go astray in that debate.

EGO AT THE ROOT
The first thing which comes to my mind when considering why Scientists might ridicule or reject a 'new' piece of research or anything contra the prevailing orthodoxy, is that 'reputations', lifetimes spent in particular directions, awards.. honours.. could all be brought to nothing if the 'new' idea is accepted.

The late and begrudging recognition of the Ulcer Bateria illustrates grandly how much EGO (and therefore vested self interest) lies at the root of much 'objective' science.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...... " Gen 1.1
Posted by BOAZ_David, Thursday, 10 November 2005 12:16:23 PM
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Jane draws a very sharp line between faith and science, then by saying that ID's proponents "have faith in it" implies that it is divorced from science and thereby relegated to the scripture class.

If we bring that argument down from the rhetorical stratosphere, I'm not sure it's that clear-cut. I believe ID proponents are arguing for something like the following -

* In a biology discussion of how blood-clotting functions, the teacher points out that there appears to be an irreducable complexity in its components, meaning it is hard for evolution to say how this was produced by phased mutation. They then point out that one logical possibility is that blood-clotting was created in-place. There is no requirement to open a bible or teach Christian tenets. It's simply a statement that alongside the theory of evolution is a theory that makes a competing claim.

Jane says "What I want my children to learn in science class is how to assess evidence dispassionately." If that is true, then surely in that classroom discussion we don't want our teachers censoring the discussion simply because the theory that does have an answer is put forward by people mostly of faith. If the teacher said "evolution doesn't currently have an explanation for this, and there are other theories that do, but they're not widely accepted so we're not going to discuss them" - we'd certainly accuse them of letting their "faith" in evolution override good science.

p.s. Before anyone responds with a scientific answer to the blood-clotting example, please remember that Jane was arguing that ID is all faith and no science, so the fact that we *could* respond with scientific arguments shows that ID does raise *some* scientific points. Which says that, scientifically, we can't immediately dismiss it and it may be worth considering (in some form) a useful classroom discussion
Posted by Nesgar, Thursday, 10 November 2005 1:31:31 PM
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Yes indeed, Jane Caro - "if it doesn't understand such a fundamental element" (difference between faith and reason) "in education - should it qualify as a school?"
I consider that such "schools" don't satisfy the requirements for a school child's attendance for compulsory education; let alone qualify for government funding for private schools.
But, it is not enough to say "What I want my children to learn in science class is how to assess evidence dispassionately. I want them to learn, not just the importance of what we know and what we don't know, but the difference. In fact, I want them to learn and appreciate the difference between faith and reason." There is that indeed, but there is more, much more.
It has to do with development of an understanding of the world of which we are a component: how we fit into it; the jigsaw of interdependence, the interplay, between living entities. The understanding that humanity is not an island unto itself, but dependent upon an interconnected web with other creatures. Such understanding develops only with the curiosity fostered by the pleasure engendered from ever-questioning science. Both the individual and society are enriched by it.
Leave the barren discussion of relative purity in moral matters outside, in its usual place, the battlefield. I, from the non-combatant sidelines, rate the moral history of the Taoists, or of the Buddhists, as having a record far superior in such matters to any of the many sects of bloody-minded Christians.
Posted by colinsett, Thursday, 10 November 2005 2:06:42 PM
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"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...... " Gen 1.1

boaz, its an interesting point that the 11 parents who brought the case to dissmiss the teaching of id at dover high also hold this simple statement to be true, and they made a very deliberate decision that all the expert witnesses argueing in favour of evolution were also christian (richard dawkins would probably done more harm than good). it became very hard for the school councilors and their witnesses to argue that evolution was anti-faith when everyone on the other side were devout conservative christians. the conflict between evolution and religious belief is only imagined by people who fear the dimminishing influence of their faith on society.

on a personal note, my father, who holds a phd in physics (and therefore has a deep understanding of the pricipals of the scientific method), also holds gen 1.1 to be true. for him, like i would suggest the majority of scientists would hold a religious faith, see no conflict between evolution and religion. futhermore he and a number of his colleauges have formed a lose group to ensure that id is never taught as an alternative scientific theory. id is, as he put it, an insult both to the intellectual progress of humanity and to the divinity of god the creator.

he understands the idea of god establishing the physical laws of our universe which gave rise to life's common ancestor as an elegant and profound concept of creation. compare this to the messy interventions (and failures) of a godthing specificaly mucking around with butterfly wings and eye lenses, the very idea smacks of a primitive (pagan anyone?) conception of god.

anyway, i would mention id in science class, not as an alternative theory, but in the same way that we studied the failure of lysenko's lamarkianism in russia, as a lesson in the dangers of the distortion of scientific principlas and evidence by ideology.
Posted by its not easy being, Thursday, 10 November 2005 2:34:21 PM
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INEB
yes, by and large that is my very point.

There is not a lot of conflict between Genesis 1:1 and science.
The conflict begins usually after that :)
When Genesis outlines the 'days' etc..usually the divergence begins.

For me, I'm not particularly fussed if 'Creation' is not taught in Science classes....AS LONG as.... they don't teach an equally speculative theory of 'origins' as 'fact'.

But its like feminism, they began with 'we want equality', and as things started to even out in terms of pay etc, they suddenly realized they were losing relevance, (the hard core/leadership) so.. quick answer.. 'jump to the next level' etc to the point where in Sweden, a political party called 'Feminist Initiative' got up with an initial 28% or thereabouts support. But when they made their theme song for one of their conferences "F**k men, who needs them" their support dwindled, but it shows the 'direction' for relevance challenged ideologues.

The same applies for the Creation/Evolution scene. Many people build their lives and reputations on particular 'directions' in science.

Bottom line, teach 'the controversy' in Civics/Philosophy classes :)
Leave 'real' science to the science classroom. Though, I don't see any problem with at least referring to the various schools of thought in Science classes when confronting 'irreducable complexity' etc. But if they 'laughed' off the idea of Creation and 'seriously supported' the idea of 'origins from primordial slime' I would take serious issue with them and insist they also referred to the likelihood of a fully functional 747 emerging from a junkyard explosion..'if given enough time' :)
cheers
Posted by BOAZ_David, Friday, 11 November 2005 4:34:48 AM
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