One more time: Intelligent design is a pig that still doesn’t fly

July 26, 2012

Gee, I think I first posted this more than a year before the Pennsylvania decision.  In any case, the subject has come up once again in another forum:  Why don’t we teach intelligent design as an “alternative” idea in public school science classes?  The answer is, simply, ID is not science.  It’s not an alternative hypothesis, it’s a chunk of minority cult religious dogma.
Most bad science claims recirculate year after year, until they are simply educated out of existence in the public mind.  We can hope intelligent design falls into that category.  But we might worry that modern creationism, begun as a backlash to the anti-Soviet, National Defense Education Act‘s effects on beefing up science teaching in American schools, survives.
Picture from Flying Pig Brewery, Seattle, Washington
Image: Flying Pig Brewing Co., Everett, Washington

[From 2006 and 2007]:

We’re talking past each other now over at Right Reason, on a thread that started out lamenting Baylor’s initial decision to deny Dr. Francis Beckwith tenure last year, but quickly changed once news got out that Beckwith’s appeal of the decision was successful.

I noted that Beckwith’s getting tenure denies ID advocates of an argument that Beckwith is being persecuted for his ID views (wholly apart from the fact that there is zero indication his views on this issue had anything to do with his tenure discussions). Of course, I was wrong there — ID advocates have since continued to claim persecution where none exists. Never let the facts get in the way of a creationism rant, is the first rule of creationism.

Discussion has since turned to the legality of teaching intelligent design in a public school science class. This is well settled law — it’s not legal, not so long as there remains no undisproven science to back ID or any other form of creationism.

Background: The Supreme Court affirmed the law in a 1987 case from Louisiana, Edwards v. Aguillard (482 U.S. 578), affirming a district court’s grant of summary judgment against a state law requiring schools to teach creationism whenever evolution was covered in the curriculum. Summary judgment was issued by the district court because the issues were not materially different from those in an earlier case in Arkansas, McLean vs. Arkansas (529 F. Supp. 1255, 1266 (ED Ark. 1982)). There the court held, after trial, that there is no science in creationism that would allow it to be discussed as science in a classroom, and further that creationism is based in scripture and the advocates of creationism have religious reasons only to make such laws. (During depositions, each creationism advocate was asked, under oath, whether they knew of research that supports creationism; each answered “no.” Then they were asked where creationism comes from, and each answered that it comes from scripture. It is often noted how the testimony changes from creationists, when under oath.)

Especially after the Arkansas trial, it was clear that in order to get creationism into the textbooks, creationists would have to hit the laboratories and the field to do some science to back their claims. Oddly, they have staunchly avoided doing any such work, instead claiming victimhood, usually on religious grounds. To the extent ID differs from all other forms of creationism, the applicability of the law to ID was affirmed late last year in the Pennsylvania case, Kitzmiller v. Dover. (Please go read that case!)

Read the rest of this entry »


Meanwhile, in the evolution debates, where we find the Mother of All Denialism . . .

June 29, 2011

Other fronts in the War on Education may have earned more attention here in the Bathtub, lately — and in state legislatures.  Threats from the dilution and elimination of good, hard science courses continue to pose problems, especially from creationists and their shyer, camouflage troops from the Chapel of Intelligent Design.

We need to stay aware of the creationist/creationism threat.  At its heart, creationism requires adherents to reject the facts of science, to reject the workings of science, and to reject the functions of debate about what is real, and what is not.  It is to me a rather simple discussion of the quality of evidence.

Eugenie Scott and her colleagues from the National Center for Science Education provide a great update in what is going on, with a great video, and an informative and troubling explanation of the links between creationism and the “unbelievers” in climate change.

Be sure to watch the first ten minutes, to see the video update on the fight to keep good science education in schools, especially the teaching of evolution.


End of the end of the world as we know it . . .

May 22, 2011

. . . didn’t happen.

Our friend, The Sensuous Curmudgeon, got it right, I think:

The BBC reports ‘Rapture’: Believers perplexed after prediction fails. It says:

Some believers expressed bewilderment or said it was a test from God of their faith, after the day passed without event.

Meanwhile, the evangelist at the centre of the claim, Harold Camping, has not been seen since before the deadline.

Maybe Camping has gone to his reward. We don’t know — but we do know one thing: This will probably our last Rapture thread for a while.

If only we could get the creationists to make some kind of spectacular, easily verifiable, utterly goofball predictions like the end-of-the-world folks do. But it wouldn’t matter; they’ll continue to be creationists. If 21 May has taught us anything, it’s that true believers never stop believing.

Evidence prevents the need to believe; we should stick to the evidence.  Camping started with a calculation that the flood of Noah, which never occurred as Camping thought, occurred 7,000 years ago, some 2,000 to 3,000 years different from the calculations made from the Bible by most young Earth creationists (but not Ken Ham), and way off the smoke-ring calculations of intelligent design whimsies, who can’t be pinned down to any number at all.

But they never stop believing contrary to the evidence.

Keep them off of juries, if you wish for justice.


Stealth creationists aim to mess up biology students

July 15, 2010

So, God is a platypus?

Appearing to be aware they are losing the battle of the classroom to real science, creationists have taken a sneakier way to undermine science education.  P. Z. Myers explains:

A lot of people have been writing to me about this free webgame, CellCraft. In it, you control a cell and build up all these complex organelles in order to gather resources and fight off viruses; it’s cute, it does throw in a lot of useful jargon, but the few minutes I spent trying it were also a bit odd — there was something off about it all.

Where do you get these organelles? A species of intelligent platypus just poofs them into existence for you when you need them. What is the goal? The cells have a lot of room in their genomes, so the platypuses are going to put platypus DNA in there, so they can launch them off to planet E4R1H to colonize it with more platypuses. Uh-oh. These are Intelligent Design creationist superstitions: that organelles didn’t evolve, but were created for a purpose; that ancient cells were ‘front-loaded’ with the information to produced more complex species; and that there must be a purpose to all that excess DNA other than that it is junk.

Suspicions confirmed. Look in the credits.

Also thanks to Dr. Jed Macosko at Wake Forest University and Dr. David Dewitt at Liberty University for providing lots of support and biological guidance.

Those two are notorious creationists and advocates for intelligent design creationism. Yep. It’s a creationist game. It was intelligently designed, and it’s not bad as a game, but as a tool for teaching anyone about biology, it sucks. It is not an educational game, it is a miseducational game. I hope no one is planning on using it in their classroom. (Dang. Too late. I see in their forums that some teachers are enthusiastic about it — they shouldn’t be).

No such thing as a free lunch.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Free software for use in educating kids about biology, sounds too good to be true.

_____________

In comments, Lars Doucet disavows creationist intent.  So the creationist/intelligent design factors were added just to make the game more playable, and not as an attempt to introduce or endorse creationism or intelligent design.

Lots of discussion, much of it rude (some of it delightfully so), at Myers’ joint.

Maybe, if the makers didn’t intend to make a creationist stealth game, they could jigger the thing to make it more accurate?


Religious nut new on the scene, “explains origins of life”

July 14, 2010

“Darwinism” is doomed, Perry Marshall says. The entire theory will crumble in 2013 (like the Berlin Wall — may as well start with an offensive comparison to totalitarianism since everyone knows it will get there eventually), if you just suffer through his lessons, send him some money, suspend all logic and reason, send him some money, forget everything you learned in science, and send him a ltittle money.

Plus, he’s figured out how to reconcile Christianity and science. (Call the Templeton Prize committee.)  (No, call James Randi and the FBI fraud squad instead.)  You can take his course at Coffeehouse Theology (no Mormons need apply, but hey, they teach evolution at their colleges, so they can’t be real saints, can they?).

Perry Marshall, publicity photo

According to Perry Marshall, "Perry Marshall's books on Google AdWords are the most popular in the world." No hyperbole, no ego here.

Did I mention he’s an engineer?

Yes, Spunky, that’s your Hemingway solid-gold S–t Detector™ clanging in your holster, if you’re using the handy, lithium-battery-powered version.  If the rest of the story didn’t set your device off, the lack of an immediate plea for money should have.

Mr. Marshall asks you to turn off your Hemingway, and your mind, relax and float downstream (apologies to the Beatles).  You being a Wise Human, should just reset the device, and go back to ignoring Perry Marshall.

Do you remember when people had to do a lot of dope to get these kinds of hallucinations?  People like Marshall do damage to Carlos Casteneda and famous hoakum.

The only mystery to me is, why is Marshall bursting out on the scene now, with on-line ads that run even next to P. Z. Myers’ blog Pharyngula?  (That’s where I found him; the elves of the internest may give you different ads.)  Marshall appears to be a follower, if not disciple, of Hugh Ross.  Perhaps he’s really prospecting for leads for his business.

Ignorance abounds in the world.  The cure is knowledge and study, not more ignorance and bovine excrement.


Dembski’s students sent into the crucible of Darwinism, at SMU!

September 24, 2009

Oh, the sermons they’ll be able to preach!

We learn from a couple of sources that Bill Dembski has assigned his students in two different classes at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary to try to crash a program honoring Charles Darwin and evolution theory at nearby Southern Methodist University, on Thursday, September 24.

Fall 2009

Christian Apologetics (SWBTS #PHILO 4373 – Fall 2009)

<> New as of 09.16.09! Dear Class, I want to share with you a few things: (1) For extra credit I’d like you to go to SMU on September 24th. On that day there are two back-to-back events at SMU celebrating Darwin — go to smu.edu/smunews/darwin/events.asp and scroll down to September 24th. I don’t want you going there merely as spectators but will indicate in class how you might actively participate and engage the Darwin-lovers you’ll find there.

*     *     *     *     *

Intelligent Design or Unintelligent Evolution (SWBTS #PHILO 2483 – Fall 2009)

<> New as of 09.16.09! Dear Class, I want to share with you a few things: (1) For extra credit I’d like you to go to SMU on September 24th. On that day there are two back-to-back events at SMU celebrating Darwin — go to smu.edu/smunews/darwin/events.asp and scroll down to September 24th. I don’t want you going there merely as spectators but will indicate in class how you might actively participate and engage the Darwin-lovers you’ll find there.

You gotta wonder just what would happen if one of those abused students were to actually pay attention to the science, turn honest, and become a defender of science and Darwin.  SWBTS students are not required to swear to honesty, however, so it’s unlikely they will turn (not at the tuitions they pay!).

SMU’s Year of Darwin programs feature the NOVA episode on the Pennsylvania trial on evolution and intelligent design.  The NOVA piece will be screened, and discussions will include the Honorable John E. Jones, the federal judge who presided over the trial and has since been maligned unfairly by Dembski and other religionists who reject the views of science.  Other lecturers include reporter Laurie Lebo and the team that produced the NOVA episode:

Sept. 24, 2009

Reception 10 a.m.

Lecture 10:30 a.m.

DeGolyer Library

The Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon and The Friends of KERA Invite the public to a special event in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species and the 200th birthday of its author, Charles Darwin. Featured speakers will be Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA, and Melanie Wallace, senior series producer of NOVA. Please RSVP to 214-768-3225 or cruppi@smu.edu, Complimentary Valet Parking.
Sept. 24, 2009

4-6 p.m.

O’Donnell Hall

Owen Art Center

Screening of “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” a NOVA documentary. Introduction by Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA, who received an honorary degree from SMU in 2008.
Sept. 24, 2009

Reception 6-7 p.m.

Panel 7-8:30 p.m.

Caruth Auditorium

Owen Art Center

A panel discussion on the legal, ethical and journalistic issues surrounding the making of NOVA’s documentary film, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Participants include John E. Jones, the federal judge who barred a Dover, Pa., public school district in 2005 from teaching “intelligent design”; Paula Apsell and Melanie Wallace, NOVA producers of the documentary; plaintiff’s council Eric Rothschild; and Laurie Lebo, author of The Devil in Dover.
Sept. 25, 2009

10:30 a.m. – noon

Karcher Auditorium

Storey Hall

“Intelligent Design in the Classroom,” a panel discussion on First Amendment issues featuring Judge John E. Jones III, Eric Rothschild (Pepper Hamilton, LLP), Hiram Sasser (Liberty Legal Institute) and Lackland Bloom, SMU’s Dedman School of Law.
Sept. 25, 2009

10-11:30 a.m.

3531 Garson

Owens Art Center

Master class on Documentary Film Making, taught by Paula Apsell and Melanie Wallace of NOVA. Strictly by RSVP (to Teri Trevino, trevinot@mail.smu.edu)
Sept. 25, 2009

2-3 p.m.

Hughes-Trigg Forum

Lauri Lebo will speak on “From Dover to Texas: Reporting on Extremist Views in a Fair and Balanced World” followed by a book signing of her book, The Devil in Dover.

I have attended sessions around Dallas where Dembski and other ID creationists were the featured speakers.  We know one thing for certain:  Dembski’s students will be given a more polite and mannerly reception at SMU than Dembski and his crew give scientists and critics at their own sessions.  For years, since 1991 at least, SMU has allowed Dembski and his accomplices to use the facilities and good offices of SMU to promote their anti-science screeds, though Dembski’s views are not shared by Methodists, and are contrary to positions taken by the Methodist General Assembly.

It is impossible to imagine that SWBTS would allow Methodists to do the same thing, teaching and promoting science and especially evolution theory, at the seminary.

SMU’s program is open to the public (go to the SMU site above to see more events set over the next few months).

Dembski is teaching apologetics.  Creationist apologists are not licensed, and generally cannot be sued for pedagogical or theological malpractice, even by their students.  Standards for apologetics don’t exist.  Scientists, on the other hand, are subject to peer review, and if using federal funds, prosecution should they tell falsehoods.

Nota bene: SMU’s lectures on Darwin’s Evolving Legacy are available on video, on-line.  See the wonderfully informative and explanatory presentation by Dr. Barbara Forrest, for example.


Products of intelligent design

September 12, 2009

Polychaete worm, 4-foot long version.  A product of intelligent design?

Polychaete worm, 4-foot long version. A product of intelligent design?

Fish and coral-eating polychaete worms can cause destruction in otherwise peaceful fish tanks.  Read about it here.

Fish tongue-eating isopod parasite.  Image from Pharyngula, borrowed from someone else

Fish tongue-eating isopod parasite. Image from Pharyngula, borrowed from someone else

Read about that one here.

Does William Dembski really explain these things with his maths?  What was God thinking then?

Tip of the old scrub brush and a shake of the old lobster trap to Pharyngula.

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