is intelligent design dead in dover?

A diary entry from a Daily Kos member in Pennsylvania suggests that Intelligent Design may be dying in Dover, PA:

The most important story tonight is not Tim Kaine, nor is it John Corzine…

Local TV here in Pennsyl-bama (central PA) just annonced that in the race for Dover PA school board (where incumbants have been fighting for intelligent design to be taught in public schools) EVERY Democratic, anti-intelligent design challenger has won, with 100 percent of precints reporting. 6 seats (4-4 year terms, 2-2 year terms) are now controlled by anti-intelligent design Dems.

So, perhaps all hope is not lost. (I like being able to log-out for the night on a positive note.)

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  1. Posted November 9, 2005 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I’ll chime in with nothing really pertinent, but maybe something you’ll enjoy.

    How about some animation? I think Jesus Juice might be just the thing!

  2. mark
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, things didn’t go so well in Kansas with regard to Intelligent Design. I’ll try to update the post later with a link.

    As for Jesus Juice, I’m sure somebody somewhere is working on a business plan.

  3. john galt
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Jesus Juice just applied for a trademark.. I wonder if you drink enough of it will it summon fish?

  4. Posted November 10, 2005 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    The guy from the school board in Dover asked the judge if he pruposely made the trial last 40 days. The judge responded by saying that it was “coincidence, not by design.”

  5. Shanster
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    That’s just great. Did you know that the reason the Butler Act was challenged in the Scopes trial was not because of the scientific arguments, but on the basis of freedom of speech? The kids in Dover should not be allowed to read, either, just listen to what their teachers tell them. Is there a movement afoot for the elimination of opposing information via incineration? That would help. In fact, they should not be allowed to go home and be influenced by their clearly less intelligent parents. Follow the great example of the Deutsche Demokratische Republlik.

    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind, and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

  6. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Actually, some members of the Dover Cares slate have proposed making Intelligent Design an elective; whereas the IDers alienated many voters by smearing Dover Cares, linking it to NAMBLA and terrorism.

    I don’t know of any proposals to burn books; as far as I know, the Dover churches are still open for business.

  7. Teddy Glass
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    It seems like we keep going around in circles on this issue, but to me the logic is quite simple. To open our science classes to one myth that cannot be supported scientifically, is to open them to every such myth in existence. Christianity, as I’m sure you all realize, is not the only religion practiced in the United States which has tenants that run contrary to accepted scientific norms. And, what’s more, I suspect that it would not be logistically tenable to teach each and every such belief. The whole ID argument seems to rest on this notion that fundamentalist Christianity is our state religion, or, if not our official state religion, at least the only religion that needs to be considered. (Fundamentalist Christianity may be the wrong descriptive term there. I just mean offshoots of Christianity that read the Bible as literally true.) The whole ID argument is a house of cards built on a faulty premise – that Christian views trump all others. (And the argument that by not having ID on the

  8. Tony Buttons
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    And Pat Robertson weighs in:

    Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting “intelligent design” and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

    I love that crazy sack of shit.

  9. Shanster
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the all due respect part. The Dover case was not about having ID taught by teachers at all. It was about requiring teachers to offer alternative texts to be read outside of class which support ID. Realistically, about 1% of kids would have looked at the texts, but it would have kept the creationists happy.

    I didn’t know about the elective suggestion. That’s a swell idea, and it goes far beyond what was proposed by the board previously.

  10. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    There’s another simple logic: Intelligent Design is not science. Science is a specific and limited technique, which uses observation and analysis to study physical phenomena; it can neither prove nor disprove a creator. Intelligent Design is philosophy, which is a perfectly valid discipline for investigating many subjects that science can’t. The two often intertangle, but there are sound reasons for keeping them separate. That’s what’s meant by the word “discipline.”

  11. Shanster
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    All the more reason, as you say, not to teach intelligent design in the science classroom but to offer, as Dover would have, supplemental materials to those who had some disagreement. The supplemental materials offered (I think it was “Pandas and People”) could help students to understand what they are taught by their parents/churches in light of what they learn in science class. ID theory shows how science and belief in God are not mutually exclusive. Most creationists (I speak for them because they told me it’s ok) don’t care to have ID theory taught to atheist children, but are more concerned about atheistic evolutionists debunking their religion without giving the other side a chance.

    As a history teacher, if I had a student come in talking about how his parents hated FDR and how FDR unfairly pushed us into WWII (a position for which there are some arguments, but ultimately I disagree with) as opposed to the way it is commonly presented as a reaction to PH, I would offer him materials to examine that theory, including those that support it even though I don’t.

  12. chris
    Posted November 11, 2005 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    You know what kills me about ID? The theory of evolution never once denies the existance of God. But ID proposes to know what God thinks, or at the very least how he did it.

    Again the conservative christian movement shows a profound lack of understanding of christianity foremost by preaching definatively what God meant. Isn’t that a little vain? I for one would never begin to assume what God thinks let alone attempt to dictate into legislation.

  13. Shanster
    Posted November 12, 2005 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Pat Robertson continues to make Pat Buchanan look good, as well as Pat Paulsen.

  14. Posted November 12, 2005 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Mr. Skinner, while I agree with most of your points, I think that calling ID a “philosophy,” thereby presumably equating it with such other philosophies as determinism or objectivism, overstates the case.

    My dictionary defines “philosophy” [from philos sophia, love of wisdom] as “The study by logical reasoning of the basic truths and laws governing the universe, nature, life, morals, etc.” ID does not examine these items using logical reasoning. On the contrary, it is predicated upon a belief, which has nothing to do with logic.

    Furthermore, it is a dishonest system. Obviously the God in question is the Christian fundamentalist God. I don’t see the American Hindu community clamoring for ID to be taught in schools. If this “philosophy” had integrity, its proponents would come right out and baldly state, and vigorously defend, the case that the God in question is their Christian fundamentalist God. Instead, the proponents are disingenuous and deceitfully coy, saying it could be “any” god–but I don’t think they’d be too happy if teachers told their kids that the elephant-headed Ganesh played a key role in it all. A “philosophy” that is not even honest and forthright cannot be respected or taken seriously.

    ID and by comparison recognized schools of philosophical thought are by no means on the same level of sophistication of thought. I know I’m going on about this use of the word “philosophy,” but this is similar to the use of the word “debate” to characterize the comparison of the relatively crude and primitive idea of ID with the extremely complicated and subtle and many-layered concept of evolution. Using words like “debate” or “philosophy” insinuates that these two items are on the same level of sophistication of thought or are of equal or comparable validity. I know that was not Mr. Skinner’s intention (and I’m not criticizing him by any means, but speaking to the issue in general), but it’s a danger to keep in mind, since that’s just what the ID folks want. It is disingenuous to use such terms thus, and gives an unwarranted apparent validity to what is only, after all, superstition and magical thinking.

  15. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 12, 2005 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Laura — Those are good points! When I called ID a “philosophy,” I was referring to the subject matter, not the treatment of it. But given ID’s religious basis, maybe “theology” is a better word. Of course, you could also argue that its intent is purely evangelistic. In any case, it’s not biology.

    I still fail to see how anyone can contemplate the magnificent chaos of the cosmos, and think, “Oh, that’s nice! It was obviously made by an intelligence like mine.” But I guess some people do.

  16. Posted November 12, 2005 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Skinner: I agree wholeheartedly with your second-para point. To me, it points up the egoism of some segments of humanity. We are limited and often rather stupid beings. Just because our brains can’t reason out every last detail of what you aptly call the “magnificent chaos of the cosmos” does not mean we must throw up our hands and declare it divinely created. Rather, we should ponder the long and slow history of the advance of science and realize that we have made incremental steps forwards, over time, to understanding it all, but that there’s a long road ahead. It is arrogant to suppose that something as “advanced” or “miraculous” or whatever as a human, by virtue of not being able to yet explain all of the magnificent chaos, must resort to the explanatioin that the cosmos is divinely created. Nonsense.

  17. Shanster
    Posted November 13, 2005 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    I agree that ID is predicated on the belief in a creator, but macro-evolution is predicated on the belief in the lack of a creator (atheism (I know you can believe in a non-creating God, but I don’t know any term for it)). They see that things evolve and adapt, observable micro-evolution, and assume that the only way that the higher order living things could have emerged was by evolving. This, too, is a philosophy and an assumption.

    There are other Creationist groups doing research besides Christian Fundamentalists, including Jewish groups. I found an interesting article by Dr. Lee M Spetner, Physicist. I think he’s Jewish, but his writing doesn’t give any clear indication. Hindu Archaeologist Author Michael Cremo is viewed favorably by 6 day creationists, because he sees evidence for the co-existence of dinosaurs and man.

  18. chris
    Posted November 13, 2005 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Shanster, what do you mean by macro-evolutionists? Big Bang theorists? Though many scientists do identify as atheist, esp those put forth by the media to engage the IDers, I have yet to see anything when reading scientific articles and text reg. evolution that says something to the effect of…everything you read from this point on is true only if you are an atheist. Source this please, so I can further understand where in the garden of eden you’re coming from.

  19. Posted November 14, 2005 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    I assumed that with your bio back ground you would know the micro/macro distinction. According to the Wikipedia, macroevolution is the concept that evolution of species and higher taxa is the result of large-scale changes in gene-frequencies over time. Actually, the wikipedia frames the debate very well at the above link. Micro-evolution is basically undebatable, because it can be observed and tested by controlled tests, but macroevolution assumes that there is a giant chain of microevolutions which cause the higher taxa to appear.

  20. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 14, 2005 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    But how is macroevolution atheistic? Is chemistry atheistic because it doesn’t explicity state that the periodic table was created by God?

    I think it’s more accurate to say that the physical sciences are agnostic — there’s no physical evidence either for or against the divine. Science can only investigate matter; by definition, God is spiritual, not material. Therefore, science can have nothing to say on the subject. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all scientists are agnostic, since they can hold religious views for non-scientific reasons.

    Maybe it’s useful to point out how limited the scientific method is. Physicians are frustrated by the difficulty of applying it to medicine: the many variables of human bodies (age, sex, race, diet, genetic variety) make controlled observation almost impossible; pain relief can’t be measured objectively; you can’t devise a double-blind experiment for a surgical technique; etc. (The “evidence-based” movement in medicine has to grapple with these questions; a dip into their problems is a good primer in methodology.)

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that scientists “assume” macroevolution; this is the current understanding, based on observation and analysis. I do assume that understanding will evolve over the centuries; it always has!

  21. Shanster
    Posted November 14, 2005 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Doug, I agree that macroevolution is not necessarily atheistic, but not agnostic either. The fossil record is not complete, so macroevolutionists put forth the theory that the emergence of higher taxa must be the result of microevolution because the explanation of the IDers, namely that God somehow (naturally or supernaturally) added the necessary information to the DNA to produce new taxa, is inherently impossible. To deny that possibility out of hand, dismissing it, as Laura did, as nonsense shows an anti-supernatural bias. I realize science has to discount the examination of God, being that a spiritual being may or may not act according to natural laws. If the physical sciences, specifically macroevolutionists were agnostic, then the Dover statement would have posed no threat, so why not admit that Darwinian Macroevolution is the best purely natural theory we have, but it is not perfect, maybe something else (God, Aliens, Thetans…) caused the Cambrian explosion.

    I also agree that our understanding will increase in the future. If researchers find a proto-eyeball growing in a worm (or other such proto-complex structure), then the theory of Irreducible Complexity will be disproven, therefore at least part of the ID Theory is falsifiable.

    Sorry for the length of this post. I usually go with the theory that brevity is the key to communication. Maybe my wit is just soulless today.

  22. mark
    Posted November 14, 2005 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have time to do it, but I was just thinking that it might be an interesting exercise to write every religious sect in the United States and ask them what they would like to have included in the science curriculum of the American public schools. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few

  23. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 16, 2005 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Shanster — But still, science has to be based on physical evidence. I don’t think biologists dismiss supernatural intervention as impossible, just not supported by physical evidence, and not falsifiable. That’s why I said science has to be officially agnostic, even though many scientists are personally religious or atheistic. There is physical evidence for macroevolution that is accepted by mainstream biologists, although discounted by IDers. (You already know all the back and forth on this.) If IDers come up with evidence that passes peer review (or a proto-eyeball that can’t be dismissed as random mutation), it will be accepted; until then, it will have to be classed as unscientific. There have been many ideas that haven’t prevailed, even though their supporters wanted them to; that’s just the way it is.

    As it is, ID stands as a religious doctrine, and we have, as a society, agreed not to teach religion in public schools.

    Meanwhile, you’re free to believe what you want. Nobody is stopping you. Astrology is not accepted by science either, but still ardently believed by millions, and there are cartloads of books on it. Which is as it should be.

    Sorry for the length of this post as well; I wanted to be clear and fair, and it’s hard to be succint too, especially with no coffee in the house. Onward!

  24. Shanster
    Posted November 16, 2005 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    OK, but are you willing to look at physical evidence of a miraculous healing as proof of a supernatural intervention? I just found a claim of a woman who was verifiably healed of Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Because I am inclined to believe in healing, I accept it as presented with the understanding that some people may try to deceive. Would you do the same or seek some other natural explanation?

  25. chris
    Posted November 16, 2005 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Shanster- yoou will get a kick out of this. I linked to the definition and read through it. And yes, I now remember macro vs. microevolution. In fact, I am almost positive that explaining the difference between the two was actually one of the essay question choices on my “Evolution and Ecology 101” final. One of the choices I obviously did not choose! I remember why too, I cannot favor/distinguish one over the other. Not that the differences aren’t obvious but more a which came first chicken or egg question to me, and thus a moot point. I think that they are both true, as is Gould’s punctuated equilibrium, a theory of which I am especially fond since his cameo in the Simpsons.

    Well, anyway…you now see why I did not chose this question and why I was so blatently ignorant of its existance.

  26. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 17, 2005 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Shanster — I’m always happy to look at any anomaly! (And I recommend the work of William Corliss, who collects data that challenge current scientific paradigms. He has no ideological agenda — only that we still have work to do. He’s a Fortean treasure — see He has, by the way, compiled a mass of material not easy for strict Darwinians to explain!)

    My inclination is to accept an unexplained healing as neither natural nor supernatural, but proof of man’s limited understanding. In other words, if I don’t understand how something happened, that means I don’t understand how it happened.

    Nor do I understand the words “miraculous” and “supernatural”; they depend on our definitions of “non-miraculous” and “natural,” which have constantly changed throughout history. I interpret them as purely subjective.

    A few questions: Is a non-miraculous healing proof of no supernatural intervention? Is an unexplained death or illness proof of supernatural intervention, or is it only miraculous if we like the result? If the usual workings of nature are accepted as proof of divine order, is a miracle proof of no divine order? Is it proof of a demonic flaunting of divine order?

    I’m not opposed to the idea of supernatural/divine healing; I’m puzzled as to how it’s supposed to work.

    Most of all, though, I’m glad that the woman was cured, however it happened!

  27. chris
    Posted November 18, 2005 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    You know the problem with “supernatural healing” is that for those for whom it works it may seem that they were somehow more deserving than for those for whom it did not work.

    And “verifiable supernatural intervention”, I guess I missed that concept in undergrad biology too. Is their a wikipedia reference for that?

  28. Posted November 20, 2005 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Their it is.

  29. chris
    Posted November 20, 2005 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    haha. this has always been my downfall, there and their but rarely they’re. i thought of correcting the their in the in a follow up comment but didn’t think anyone would care. i rarely proof my coments. btw i am typing w/ one hand, can you guess what i am doing w/ the other? hint: it is not masturbating or picking my nose.

  30. Doug Skinner
    Posted November 20, 2005 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Chris — Working miracles?

  31. shanster
    Posted November 21, 2005 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Writing out my Xmas card?

  32. chris
    Posted November 21, 2005 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes, you got me it is the latter.

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