Sunday, May 15, 2005

Creationism in Kansas

This is my topic on The Atheist Experience today.

When I heard the news that evolution scientists were not going to bother testifying in Kansas, I immediately said "Good!" Since there is NO theory of Intelligent Design, the only thing they can resort to is throwing darts at evolution and hoping that if they raise enough "doubts" about the established scientific theory, the bureaucrats will eventually assume that ID should be substituted as "science".

William Dembski (author of "The Design Inference" and other arguments by mathematical handwaving) and his friends at the Discovery Institute claim that ID is scientific, but when they came to Texas, they refused to talk about ID. Instead, they said "All we want to do is 'teach the controversy.' We don't want to talk about ID at all, no not us, not today." And then they batted their eyelashes alluringly. :)

So while some of my friends said "Those scientists are just giving up by refusing to testify" I said it was a great idea. Force the ID people to talk about THEIR plans, and don't bother turning the hearings into a science class, because that's really not what it's about.

Dembski apparently agrees with me that this was a good move on their part, because he is now hopping mad about the hearings, as he indicated in this post on his blog. Now he wishes they could have FORCED the evolutionists to come in and testify. Proving, of course, that this whole Kansas spectacle really is just about grandstanding. Check out the picture on the site, it's adorable.

Here's some more commentary about Dembski's blog from Panda's Thumb.

Of course, as usual, this isn't about science at all. The creationists say all they want to do is "teach the controversy," but they are lying. What they really want to do is undermine evolution and, by extension, all of "naturalistic" science, as everybody knows who has read "The Wedge Strategy." The way the try to accomplish this is to stay on the offensive at all times and promote "doubts" about evolution. By boycotting the testimony, the science groups declared that they refuse to play the game, and I say that's a great move. Make the Intelligent Design guys defend THEIR complete theory (or rather, their complete lack of a theory). Make THEM prove that they have any alternative to offer.

The clearest indication that this has nothing to do with science is to listen to how aggressively the ID campaign is pushing memes out into the rank and file Christian soldiers. I heard a great comment on the radio this week. A creationist called in to the morning show on Air America and said "These evolutionists want you to think that 'I was a monkey swingin' from a tree now I'm a doctor with a PhD.'" (The guy said he was a trucker, but just listening to him I didn't have to be told that he didn't have a Ph.D.) Elsewhere, the phrase that evolution means "From goo to you by way of the zoo" has been all over the place. I've heard it on Christian talk shows, seen it on message boards. These cute little rhyming catch-phrases serve as a stand-in for actual thinking.

And the people on the board who are supposed to be making the decisions clearly aren't paying as much attention to the scientific substance as much as they are the political maneuvering, as revealed by the fact that so many just hadn't read the science standards.

According to Panda's Thumb, a man got a round of applause for stating in his testimony:

[Darwin’s theory] is not scientific. Why do you waste time teaching something in the science class that is not scientific? We must, by no means, get rid of science. I don’t think the argument is between maintaining scientific approach and inquiry and study and not doing so, but I think truth needs to get a hearing, along with scientific theory. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. Thank you.

Remember that. This is what the ID movement is really all about. The typical citizens of Kansas who were at the hearings knew that, they just didn't have enough sense to keep their mouths shut about the real agenda. Dembski tries to pretend that this is about science education being "fair", but don't believe him. Believe the guy quoted above: the objections are religious in nature, pure and simple.

Some great links:

Previously reported on this blog:

My report and testimony from the Texas school board hearings in 2003.

1 comment:

  1. James Bond 00711:34 PM


    I've been observing the on-going fight from the Christian Right to have Genesis-Creationism-ID- inflicted on the US school system and textbooks since 1975.

    Do Americans fully appreciate that they are the only nation of the G8 that is actually struggling with this issue?

    And I'm sure that if you would canvas the 30 to 40 nations of Europe, the issue of ID versus Darwin just does show up on the radar?

    In scientific and bio/medical fields of practice and study does America want to fall behind because graduates from the Red States learnt ID while those in the Blue states learnt Evolution?

    It boggles the mind.