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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where Bobby Jindal meets Darwin




In today's article by Bruce Chapman, the point is raised that in the state of Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal (above) has signed a law which, "sets parameters for teachers who introduce scientific supplements on Darwinian evolution, global warming, human cloning and other controversial subjects. The state's Science Education Act encourages "open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied." It specifically prohibits religious instruction or interpretations (or irreligious interpretations, for that matter). The law is simple, reasonable and avoids constitutional and scientific mistakes that afflicted earlier laws in Louisiana and elsewhere". I believe the key word here is "objective" in this case.


Chapman laments that a certain vocal minority in Louisiana are attempting to steer conversation on the subject toward a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of Creation when such religious arguments to counter Darwinian evolution, he argues, are not even necessary in the first place...

"Where public school districts have been willing to stick to scientific evidence for and against Darwinian theory, and ignore religious implications in the classroom, Darwinian opponents have not sued, let alone sued successfully.

Darwin's theory of evolution, as its main advocates assert it, presumes that there can be no scientific evidence against a totally unguided and unintelligent course to evolution. Evidence to the contrary is ruled out ahead of time. This causes Darwinists to label practically anyone a "creationist" who refuses to take the standard line. That of course includes young Earth creationists who think the world is only a few thousand years old, but also scholars who make a more limited critique that Darwin's theory cannot account for evidence of purpose and design in nature and the origins of the universe. Even "theistic evolutionists" -- who claim to adopt Darwin's theory, but still see a prior purpose of some kind guiding evolution -- are subject to Darwinian censure if they make that claim too boldly in a classroom.

To clear the air of Darwinist cant and enter a debate on the actual evidence, no religious assertions are necessary or desirable. Obviously, there may be religious implications to repudiation of Darwinism, just as there may be irreligious implications to the theory itself. Plainly, emotions on all sides are stirred up by those implications. But science is not supposed to be about religious implications, but about the evidence; and scientific evidence, though illuminating, can only take one so far."


I both agree and disagree with Chapman's article. I don't see any problem at all in teaching both Darwinian evolution and Creationism side by side, in an objective manner and thusly, the student can make up their own mind. Many of us have opinions on the matter which "evolve" over the course of our lifetimes and thus the student is armed with information to explore the matter more closely if they should wish to do so examine it later in life.

However, I can agree with Chapman that teleological arguments might be the best form of debate against Darwinism in American classrooms given the political climate here in the US. However I do puzzle over the fact that some adherents to Darwinism won't even allow for debate on those types of arguments when you think they would seize on the opportunity to try and refute such points "in the name of good science".



Realeted Note: The True Freethinker is speculating about a Richard Dawkins-David Berlinski debate. One point that I'm sure that many of us here could agree on is that such a debate would be fascinating and would serve for very interesting, further discussion on the topic.

37 comments:

Froggie said...

"[JD]I both agree and disagree with Chapman's article. I don't see any problem at all in teaching both Darwinian evolution and Creationism side by side,...."

The problem is that it is against the law- Unconstitutional. The courts have been very clear that creationism is not science.

"[Chapman- ends the article,] "Science class -- in public schools, at least--should leave religious implications at the school door. Even if one doesn't agree with that policy, the federal courts are clear on the matter."

In my education and experience I have found that very few high school students are interested in "the controversy."

It is my opinion that K-12 students should be taught sound science and then go onto their bible colleges, seminaries, secular institutions...whatever.... to form their more mature an objective opinions.

"[From the aticle]We just sit up here and let them teach evolution," Tate orated, "and not take a stand about creationism. To me, how come we don't look into this as people who are strong Christians and see what we can do to teach creationism in schools."

Public schools do not teach religious beliefs.


"[JD] However, I can agree with Chapman that teleological arguments might be the best form of debate against Darwinism in American classrooms given the political climate here in the US."

the teleological argument (the order and design of the universe), is a reason to believe in God only if you already believe. If you do not already believe, these arguments ring hollow, having been refuted over the ages by philosophers from David Hume to Daniel Dennett.

The teleological argument is purely a philosophical argument. Our schools offer an AP class in philosophy in which the arguments for the existence of God are introduced, but no high schools I know of offer a standard course in philosophy becaue that has always been considered post high school subject matter.

Froggie said...

JD,
FYI

The Scopes trial was in 1925, the Butler Act was considered not in violation of the First Amendment.

1967 - Tennessee repeals the Butler Act
1968 - Epperson V. Arkansas - Arkansas' version of the Butler Act is declared unconstitutional by the SCOTUS
1969 - Creation-science takes the place of creationism
1987 - Edwards V. Aguillard - Louisiana laws forcing the teaching of creation-science unconstitutional
1988 - The rise of Intelligent Design
2005 - Kitzmiller V. Dover - ID is unconstitutional

zilch said...

Chapman said:

Darwin's theory of evolution, as its main advocates assert it, presumes that there can be no scientific evidence against a totally unguided and unintelligent course to evolution. Evidence to the contrary is ruled out ahead of time. This causes Darwinists to label practically anyone a "creationist" who refuses to take the standard line.

This is simply not true. It's simply the case that, so far, no scientific evidence has been found that indicates any sort of intelligent being guiding evolution. If any is found, and proves to be a better explanation than the "standard line", it will become part of the "standard line". That's the way science works.

JC, you say:

I don't see any problem at all in teaching both Darwinian evolution and Creationism side by side, in an objective manner and thusly, the student can make up their own mind.

Of course you don't see any problem here: you are trying to push your particular religion. Okay, how far do you want to go with this? If we teach the Christian creation story, then we should also teach Norse mythology, American Indian creation stories, and maybe astrology too. And that's just for starters. Or do you claim special privileges for your religion? If so, on what basis?

Jquip said...

Ugly topic. No, Creationism shouldn't be taught in federally funded schools; or state funded if you accept the incorporation doctrine view of the Constitution.

Of course neither should ID, Darwinism, neo-Darwiniaism, PE, Catastrophism, RNA-world, and the now new dawning Viral view. All of these are strictly religious views of history in large main.

The problem here is one addressed by SCOTUS in various rulings. You have to acknowledge all religions equally or none at all. The former is impossible but what you are asking for JD. Better we hold the State funded schools to their legal mandate and remove all religion -- mentioned above -- from their purvue.

And, of course, if we are to be serious about legalities the Federal Government should not be funding nor involved directly in education at all.

Froggie said...

Jq,

If you are trying to compare science to religion, you are employing the classic creationist tactic of projection — accuse your opponent of precisely what you are doing so that you can divert attention away from the fact that you are doing it.

Science is not a religion.

Jquip said...

Froggie: You're begging the question. Yes or no: Is a historical narrative that makes reference to a single demonstrable fact -- no matter how loosely woven -- science?

Froggie said...

Jq,
"Jquip said...
Froggie: You're begging the question. Yes or no: Is a historical narrative that makes reference to a single demonstrable fact -- no matter how loosely woven -- science?"

1- What historical narrative?
2- What demonstrable fact?
3- To who's satisfaction is it demostrable?

Your question is too vague to be valid.

Froggie said...

Jq,
Also, no one demostrable fact makes a scientific theory, or any science for that matter.

ATVLC said...

Oh I got this problem solved.
Just teach children every creation story in science class. All of them. Not the Top 100 creation stories. All of them.
Maguayan gave birth to the sea first...
Cosmic eggs. A deity willing the universe made and speaking it into existence. Snake goddess vomit. Fashioned from a magic tree. Chaos ordered by a bear spirit. Lovingly fashioned from parts of a great mother spirit...

Then we get a bunch of scientists to stop every religious meeting by speaking about science all the time so no-one can hear about the religion.

Problem solved.

Jquip said...

Froggie: Yar, I didn't think you could answer a simple ideology free statement about what qualifies as science.

1. Any historical narrative. If which one matters then you have prejudged them on religious faith.

2. Demonstrable means capable of being demonstrated.

3. If it is demonstrable then it doesn't matter to whom it is demonstrated. The fact itself is not reliant on narratives.

Lastly, you'll really want to rethink this before continuing: Also, no one demostrable fact makes a scientific theory, or any science for that matter.

Froggie said...

Jq,

"Froggie: You're begging the question. Yes or no: Is a historical narrative that makes reference to a single demonstrable fact -- no matter how loosely woven -- science?"

I can't answer a question that vague.
If you can not frame it so I understand it, then ask it of someone else.

Perhaps you think you are being sly, or coy, but if you cannot be more specific, then you admit the question is pointless.

ATVLC said...

I think Jquip is asking "what is science?".

ATVLC said...

Or "what is science but historical narrative?"

JD Curtis said...

The teleological argument is purely a philosophical argument

I'm sure that Daniel Dennett has raised counter arguments against intelligent design. Why not present those as well along with the specific
rebuttal(s) from Berlinski/Meyer/Behe etc. and let the students decide? It would make class more interesting.

Just teach children every creation story in science class. All of them. Not the Top 100 creation stories. All of them

It would be best to put these in their cultural context. This would never fly in the US.

If Creationism were to be taught in the classroom, it could probably be covered in a matter of a couple of days. Anything more might constitute overkill would probably be risky vis-a-vis the 1st Amendment.

If Intelligent Design is a religion, then what are some of it's rituals and and who are it's ordained priests? Where are it's churches and how is a typical service conducted? What are it's sacraments?

ATVLC said...

X is too complex to have occurred randomly or naturally.
Therefore, X must have been created by an intelligent being, Y.
God is that intelligent being.
Therefore, God exists
.

Is an argument from lack of imagination.

Jquip said...

Froggie: Come now, it's a very simple question and quite old when discussing the philosophy of science. Despite which you asked for clarification, which you have previous this received. Repeating your cry of vagueness after such is an exhibition of bad faith on your part.

ATVLC: I'm asking if such a thing fits the definition of science as he sees it.

ATVLC said...

JQuip said: Of course neither should ID, Darwinism, neo-Darwiniaism, PE, Catastrophism, RNA-world, and the now new dawning Viral view. All of these are strictly religious views of history in large main.

Physical education is a religious view?

What do you mean by Catastrophism? What is the RNA-world? and "the now new dawning Viral view."?

Jquip: I'm asking if such a thing fits the definition of science as he sees it.

Sorry I'm a bit lost. To what thing does "such a thing" refer?

Jquip said...

ATVLC: PE = Punctuated Equilibrium, which is similar to Catastrophism. RNA-world and the Viral view are likewise differing evolutionary theories.

"Such a thing" is the question I asked of Froggie initially: "Yes or no: Is a historical narrative that makes reference to a single demonstrable fact -- no matter how loosely woven -- science?"

Ross said...

Bobby Jindal has been mentioned as a possible Presidential candidate. Is this true?

Froggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Froggie said...

JD,

"If Creationism were to be taught in the classroom, it could probably be covered in a matter of a couple of days. Anything more might constitute overkill would probably be risky vis-a-vis the 1st Amendment."

It is unconstitutional to teach creationism in science class because it is not science.
Teach it in philosophy or cultural studies but not science.

Jq,
ID is merely creationism disguising as science. ID can not be science because it presents no testable or falsifieable evidence "that life shows evidence of being designed by an intelligent agent, God,"

The Kitzmiller case clearly shows that ID is not science. Federal Judge Jones, a conservative and a Christian appointed by George Bush ruled on the case. He clearly noted that ID was merely creationism disguised to gain entry into science classrooms.
You can read that ruling to see why he came to that conclusion.

Now, this brings me back to the actual topic of the post, Bobby Jindal, birth name Piyush Amrit Jindal, et al.

To see the connection between their (Louisiana) new law, creationism, and ID, read this.

Froggie said...

Ross said...
"Bobby Jindal has been mentioned as a possible Presidential candidate. Is this true?"

Yes, but like Mike Huckabee, he is unelectable due to his far right belief systems and this Academic debacle has sealed his fate. He knew full well that the new law would be interpreted by his ilk to try to teach creationism in science class, but what they actually want to teach is the Book of Genesis myth, for which there is no scientific evidence.

Jquip said...

Froggie: ID can not be science because it presents no testable or falsifieable evidence

That's not what I asked, of course. Care to try again?

Froggie said...

Jq,
The provisional answer to your question, since I do not fully understand it is NO.

JD Curtis said...

I think I see what you are getting at JQP.

I hope Froggie answers your question with a bit more detail.

I don't wish to sidetrack the discussion and all of this is before we get into whether or not Evolution is a testable science.

That, and I wonder if Froggie could answer if the predictive models put forward by evolutionary biologists are as accurate as those put forward by the so-called "hard sciences".

If they don't, then do they then fail to rise to the much lower threshold of the social sciences? If that is the case, exactly what are you putting your "faith" in pal?

JD Curtis said...

[Bobby Jindal] is unelectable due to his far right belief systems and this Academic debacle has sealed his fate

Ross, despite Froggie's protestations, Jindal is no less electable than a usurper of questionable birth with ties to radical, domestic terrorists and no previous executive experience to speak of.

Froggie said...

JD,

You said, "I hope Froggie answers your question with a bit more detail."

Why would you hope that? Jq specidically asked me for a yes or no answer.

Then, "I don't wish to sidetrack the discussion and all of this is before we get into whether or not Evolution is a testable science."

No "science" is testable. The facts supporting the theories must be testable abd falsifiable. If not- as in creationism- it is not science.

JD Curtis said...

So your use of the term is better in this example.

Left unsaid is the fact that Louisiana guidelines require that evolution be taught in a "objective" manner.

I don't wish to speak for you Froggie, but would you advocate that if be taught in a more dogmatic manner?

If so, then what, may I ask, would your reasoning for this be Monsignor frog?

Froggie said...

Objective is fine with me.

JD Curtis said...

So if by "objective" you mean that teaching about flaws in the theory is allright as well?

Christ Follower (no longer) said...

Are you going to teach the flaws in EVERY theory or just a certain one?

Froggie said...

JD Curtis said...
So if by "objective" you mean that teaching about flaws in the theory is allright as well?

-----------------------------------------

Depends on what YOU consider "flaws."

zilch said...

What Froggie and CFNL said. Every theory has flaws, none is complete or perfect, and evolutionary theory is no exception. But evolutionary theory's disagreement with Genesis is not a "flaw", any more than gravitational theory's disagreement with the Earth's being supported on a stack of turtles that goes "all the way down" is a "flaw".

JD Curtis said...

"Stickwick" just posted this in another forum and I think that it speaks to what you just posted here Zilch. Quote...

"From Gerald Schroeder's The Science of God:

--

Day One (Gen. 1:1-5)

Bible: The creation of the universe; light separates from dark.

[Genesis 1:2: "Now the earth was formless and empty ... and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Note that the Bible does not claim the earth is created on Day One ("formless"). Nahmanides explained more than 700 years ago that the Hebrew word for "empty" (bohu) also means "filled with the building blocks of matter." That's an excellent description from the point of view of physics. "Water" is a mistranslation.*]

Science: The big bang marks the creation of the universe; light breaks free as electrons bond to atomic nuclei; galaxies start to form.

--

Day Two (Gen. 1:6-8)

Bible: The heavenly firmament forms.

Science: Disk of the Milky Way forms; the Sun forms.

--

Day Three (Gen. 1:9-13)

Bible: Oceans and dry land; the first life, plants; only start of plant-life, which develops during the following days (kabalah).

Science: The earth has cooled and liquid water appears 3.8 billion years ago followed almost immediately by the first forms of life; bacteria and photosynthetic algae.

--

Day Four (Gen. 1:14-19)

Bible: Sun, Moon, and stars become visible** in heavens (Talmud Hagigah 12a).

Science: Earth’s atmosphere becomes transparent; photosynthesis produces oxygen-rich atmosphere.

--

Day Five (Gen. 1:20-23)

Bible: First animal life swarms abundantly in waters; followed by reptiles and winged animals.

Science: First multicellular animals; waters swarm with animal life having the basic body plans of all future animals; winged insects appear.

--

Day Six (Gen. 1:24-31)

Bible: Land animals; mammals; humankind.

Science: Massive extinction destroys 90% of life. Land is repopulated; hominids and then humans.

--

*The basic building blocks of matter are quarks. When the universe cooled enough to allow matter to form, the state of all matter in the universe was what Scientific American described in a cover article as "quark soup." Now, the Hebrew word commonly translated into English as "water" actually means "fluid." Physicists claimed to have recreated the conditions of the big bang in particle accelerators and found that the quarks produced behave like a perfect fluid.

**The Talmud explains that the sun and moon are not created on Day Four, but become visible from earth on Day Four. This corresponds to when the atmosphere would have become transparent.

Why did you leave out hominids and humans?

The Bible gets it exactly right. But even without these corrections, you didn't find it remarkable that the Bible got it mostly right? If someone was making this stuff up out of whole cloth, why would he start the Torah with an account of the creation and list all of these events in a sequence? Why not just claim that the universe has always existed, as most people believed? Or that these things happened all at once and God produced the universe ready-made? Or, being the self-centered creatures we are, why not claim that humans were created first? I'm astonished that anyone can look at all of these events listed in Genesis and not be even slightly intrigued by the fact that the primitive author of the Torah begins with a lesson on cosmology and evolution." End quote

zilch said...

JD: this is a very admirable attempt to squoosh the Genesis account to fit what science tells us, but it's not really plausible.

To take a single example, on the third day, in Genesis 1:11, God created plants, but didn't get around to creating the Sun until the fourth day, Genesis 1:16. And if you consult Strong's Concordance, you will see nothing about the Sun "becoming visible", but simply "made, created":

Word: DYR

Pronounce: aw-saw'

Strong: H6213

Orig: a primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application (as follows):--accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, be at, become, bear, bestow, bring forth, bruise, be busy, X certainly, have the charge of, commit, deal (with), deck, + displease, do, (ready) dress(-ed), (put in) execute(-ion), exercise, fashion, + feast, (fight-)ing man, + finish, fit, fly, follow, fulfill, furnish, gather, get, go about, govern, grant, great, + hinder, hold ((a feast)), X indeed, + be industrious, + journey, keep, labour, maintain, make, be meet, observe, be occupied, offer, + officer, pare, bring (come) to pass, perform, pracise, prepare, procure, provide, put, requite, X sacrifice, serve, set, shew, X sin, spend, X surely, take, X thoroughly, trim, X very, + vex, be (warr-)ior, work(-man), yield, use.

Nothing there about "becoming visible".

JD Curtis said...

I examined this a long time ago Zilch and I was satisfied by the response I got.

Would something like this really cause you to doubt God's existance? It seems a bit trivial to me, but I wouldnt mind reexamining this at all.

zilch said...

JD- maybe it was because I spent so much time building telescopes and collecting fossils in my formative years, but I have somehow developed a very healthy regard for science; and when someone tells me that there were plants before there was a Sun, then I don't regard that as a trivial mistake. And there are more where that came from.

Added to that is the simple lack of evidence that God exists, and the plethora of evidence that people make up gods all the time. But I'm open to being proved wrong: it's the scientific attitude.

cheers from soggy Vienna, zilch