Monday, May 23, 2005

Designing Intelligent Science Education

Whereas "Intelligent Design" is a statement of faith and all the arguments in the world cannot shake the faith of those who adhere to this political wedge strategy, and

Whereas the "Intelligent Design" folks have already demonstrated in the Southern Baptist Convention that they have the votes to force teachers to "teach that pickles have souls," and

Whereas the "Intelligent Design" folks have easily got sufficient votes in several states to force teachers to teach that the earth is flat,

Science teachers might as well resign themselves to "Having Fun With Intelligent Design." David Morris' suggestions posted on AlterNet today are hereby commended.

P.S. I'm still waiting to hear an answer to how the "theory" of "Intelligent Design" can be tested to prove its veracity or falsity and how the "theory" expands our understanding of nature. Without a viable answer, I still conclude that it is a statement of faith designed to end debate about origins.

7 comments:

Greek Shadow said...

As a Democratic ward chair in Albuquerque I was at the meeting when Bill Richardson announced his candidacy for Governor of New Mexico. He had a wonderful speech and ended it with how he wanted to improve education for the state by the usual politician's quick fix, more testing. I raised my hand and said, "As a teacher who is at the forefront of all fixing of education and are never consulted, would you just let us teach. We want to teach science not religion, we want to teach history, not political correct guilt trips. If you want to fix education STOP TRYING TO FIX IT."
Ever since Reagan came out with his Nation At Risk in 1985 teachers have been taking it in the neck from all sides, left and right. 90% of all teaching no matter the subject is classroom management. The left wants us to cuddle and let them run wild. Education cannot happen in chaos. But there is no discipline policy, or it is not enforced. The right want to dictate to us what can or cannot be taught, as if the five years plus of College education did not prepare us to do that on our own. Teachers need support and professional freedom. If your child's education is wanting it is because those are the two things lacking in education today.

Snoofy said...

One cannot test ?Intelligent Design? any more or less than one can test evolution. We cannot repeat exactly the conditions of the primordial earth and see if man evolves, for example. Both ideas attempt to draw conclusions by extrapolation of scientific data, deduction and logical reasoning. Nothing wrong with that. People are arguing about conclusions or bogus arguments. You can only argue with or against Dembski point by point.

As far teaching curriculum goes, when government money is used it is always subject to political strings. If you don?t like the curriculum in public schools then make your case in public forums to change it, or to give teachers more or less academic freedom. In any case, private education is always an alternative.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...

Snoofy,

All "Intelligent Design" is is a conclusion.

Evolution is a theory. Based on that theory, scientists make hypotheses about the trajectory in which life developed. Those hypotheses can be verified, falsified, or modified.

What does ID do to advance knowledge and understanding?

Snoofy said...

It is true Intelligent Design at least partially knows where it wants to get. But so do most scientific theories. The theory is then tested against the data.

Intelligent Design is more than simply a statement that "intelligence" is behind the universe, though that is part of it. Intelligent Design is not a single theory, but like evolution is a broad designation for a category of "evolutionary" models - ones which allow for a little more action on the part of God.

To say Intelligent Design is simply a conclusion could be true of certain practitioners of the discipline, but honest practitioners can certainly make use of science to try and argue their case.

Leighton said...

Snoofy,

The advocates of ID, as yet, have done no testing or research. If you can provide a link to or a description of any such "evolutionary" model as you describe, please do so; you will have done more than the Discovery Institute has done in all its years of purported scientific activity.

Snoofy said...

I was talking about evolutionary models of the Hugh Ross variety - the Big Bang occurs, the universe expands, then instead of life's building blocks arising from naturalistic forces of segregation and energy concentration they arise from divine energy infusion of some sort - or maybe Hugh has full blown mammals suddenly tromping around (not sure). Not arguing that the old creation research stuff was not mostly pretty bad. I'm just saying the ID people have every right to argue their case (not necessarily at public expense) - even if they are driven by theological considerations. Since they aren't using naturalistic arguments entirely and you can't perform experiments with divine intervention, perhaps they are at a scientific disadvantage. But you could in theory eliminate other naturalistic explanations and render your scenerio more probable. To rule out divine considerations a priori would be the result of philosophical prejudice. Maybe the discipline departs from science at that point, but not from the pursuit of truth.

Leighton said...

Snoofy,

That description of what Hugh Ross proposes is not a model, it's a desire for such a model. They're two different things. The difference is that a model makes concrete predictions about what data we'll find when we look at (e.g.) fossil or genomic data.

I'm not against ID proponents making arguments that involve whatever kind of criteria they like. The problem is that they don't make such arguments. They say things like "Wouldn't it be nice if we considered X instead," without actually bothering to do the legwork and coming up with a serious proposal of evidence-fitting that (a) is distinct from what we already have, (b) takes X into account, (c) can be tested by the predictions it makes, and (d) gives us information we didn't have before. That's the problem. If ID proponents would actually come up with a concrete way to bring God into science instead of lecturing scientists about how they should be open to such a thing, they'd get a much better reception.