Friday, February 11, 2005

Andrew Greeley rocks!

I was going to blog some more thoughts on teaching evolution in the schools with some pithy quotes from Andrew Greeley, but I couldn't narrow it down. His entire column says exactly what I wanted to say. If I had to pull out one quote, it would be:

The evangelicals are entitled to their beliefs, but they have no right to try to impose their view of creation on the rest of us and to deprive the children of other people an accurate picture of how science models the emergence and development of life - or an alternative view of the literary nature of the book of Genesis.


At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Bebop said...

I'm incredibly new to this debate, so bear with me. My understanding of Intelligent Design Theory, which is different from Creationism, isn't arguing against evolution necessarily as it is arguing for some sort of intelligent mind behind life. I think that's a reasonable argument to make. The ID scientists apply scientific critera (in spite of what others say), and draws its conclusion. It is evolutionism, in its purest form, that specifically denies God's exsistence by stating that all of life is randomly selected. Darwin's theory doesn't even go into the WHY of evolution, just the how. It's a reasonable question to examine the why.

Are evangelicals for Intelligent Design - sure. But I've heard of numerous people of different faiths and not of any faith support at least the hypothesis of intelligent design. I don't understand why evolutionists are so dead set against even entertaining the notion of an intelligent design behind life.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger mosaic sue said...

I absolutely believe there is a place to discuss the WHY of evolution. I agree, it is a perfectly reasonable question that should be explored. In church. Or theology class. Not in science class.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I don't understand why evolutionists are so dead set against even entertaining the notion of an intelligent design behind life.I don't think that's the problem, although admittedly there are those in the Richard Dawkins vein that believe evolution proves atheism. I'd call him a "fundamentalist atheist," though, and there are also Darwinists like Michael Ruse who argue that God in general and Christianity in particular are not inconsistant with Darwinism. (Can you tell one of my best friends is an anthropologist??) :)

The problem as I see it is that science can neither prove nor disprove God and to make it try to do either isn't a good application of it. Science classes should teach what the best scientific evidence tells us about HOW the world and life came to be. Why and whether or not there was intelligence behind that is not a question that should or can be addressed in science class. As Mosaic Sue wrote, it should be addressed in theology classes and places of worship. Intelligent design, as I understand it, does little more than attach theology onto evolutionary theory.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger BobW said...

Greeley misses the point. The "evolution" of the textbooks is specifically held to be entirely random and purposeless; nonetheistic and truly a-theistic by its own terms. Its backers are like the French scientist LaPlace, who told Napoleon that God was "not necessary for my calculations," and thus did not exist.
The one simply does not follow from the other. Granted that science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God (anyone's God), it is improper for science to state as proven, as fact,that there is no design to evolution and no underlying intelligence.
For the life of me, if these people are so confident of their position, why don't they initiate the presentation of ID and give their rebuttal? That's what my astronomy professor did with the geocentric universe, my chemistry teacher with alchemy, my biology professor with spontaneous generation. If there's any ramming down throats going on here, it's by the theory's advocates. Odd how the sides have switched in this Scopes Revisited.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said...

The idea behind Darwinism is that life was created entirely randomly, which is in direct conflict with the notion of a God creating life. If there was a God creating life, then that is purposeful, not random. However, I think the current theory of evolution is somewhat different from Darwin's original theory and allows for a God, but I could be wrong about that (again, I'm a newbie to this topic).

I would argue that ID DOES have to do with how the world and life came to be. It does not seek to answer a "why". Individual religions can answer a "why", but ID seeks to determine "how". Was life randomly assembled or is there scientific evidence that something more than randomness created the universe. The methods used to answer those questions are perfectly valid scientific methods.

I don't understand why evolutionists go ballistic when ID is even mentioned (not necessarily the people posting here). Let's at least have the debate about the theory. Isn't that what the scientific method is about - investigating new theories? It actually concerns me greatly those who believe evolution so strongly that they are not even willing to contemplate another theory, particularly one that doesn't necessarily compete with their own theory. And let's remember, It's called evolution "theory", not evolution "fact".

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I believe the "entirely random" stuff came after Darwin, with Dawkins being its chief proponent. There are Darwinists like Ruse who do not see a conflict. I highly recommend the book Can a Darwinian be a Christian by Michael Ruse. It is very difficult reading if evolutionary theory is not your area of expertise, but I think he makes some really good points about how the two are compatible without going so far as trying to prove design.

I agree that "entirely random" can't really be proven. The problem I have with ID is that it seems to me they're starting from a position of faith and trying to make the data fit that. The Bible is not a book of science and science shouldn't be made to conform to it.

Evolution is a "theory," but the scientific use of that word is much stronger than we laymen tend to think. Gravity is a theory, too. From what I've read (much of it admittedly over my head because it is academia in a field I didn't study extensively), evolutionary theory is so overwhelmingly supported by the evidence that there is little likelihood it isn't correct.

I agree that there is intelligence behind the design, but I really worry about any "science" that starts from a position of faith because of the bias. I am equally leery of Dawkins' version of Darwinism because he is starting from the exact opposite bias. I want my kids to learn SCIENCE in science class, not theology (or atheism).

At 6:02 PM, Blogger BobW said...

We also speak of the "Theory of Relativity," "Gravitational Theory," and "Quantum Theory," and in science this use of "theory" indicates something proven, as it were, "beyond a reasonable doubt." Thus, as fact. Etymologists may quibble whether this is correct English word usage; but it is certainly correct scientific usage.
The evolutionists we are talking about "go ballistic" at the mere mention of ID precisely because, though Darwin wrote well over a century ago, they still take his idea of natural, thus random selection as central to their theory of today. Did they not, they would presumably be willing to entertain the idea that "evolution" and "intelligent design" need not be contradictory.
(1955 Chevys did not, after all, produce cars that had morphed into '56s.)
This is why I say that if anyone is "ramming" something down someone else's throat, it's the mainstream scientists. Certainly there's a fringe on our side of the issue that would like to see all mention of evolution tossed out of the nation's classrooms. They are going to be very disappointed when the ID they're now reflexively supporting gets in to those classrooms. (This was written before I noted our hostess had put up a fresh post.) ID itself does not establish the truth of any specific religion or faith. It simply holds that the best reading of the available evidence indicates that:
1. the universe and all within it were created, did not "just happen;"
2. that both the creation and the subsequent growth and change of what was created indicate the presence of design; and,
3. that that design indicates a Designer: an intelligence.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said...

If you look at BobW's last post, not any of the 3 things he listed start from a position of faith. In fact, in my mind, they don't even END with a position of faith. Faith is different from scientific evidence. You could have evidence that intelligence designed the universe, but not have FAITH in that intelligence. Your right, faith should not be taught in a science class, but ID has NOTHING to do with faith - just with the evidence of creation pointing to an intelligent design rather than randomness.

I still don't get what is wrong with trying to prove design. It seems to me just as scientific a question as the mechanisms of life.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger DLW said...

I think that in terms of fostering more awareness of evolution in a wider segment of the population that the strategy for education advanced by John Angus Campbell is most wise. He believes that science classes should teach the argument of Darwin, with an acknowledgement that his opponents espoused a form of intelligent design.

Even if the students choose the "wrong" final belief, it is of value for them to learn about the art of argument as exemplified by Darwin.

Hope y'all can come by and visit me some time at the Anti-Manicheist.


At 11:21 AM, Blogger BobW said...

I would change "espoused" to "espouse;" and make a point to adding that many if not most of these opponents would not disagree that there is a process of evolution; but simply see it as acting in ways Darwin did not.

Science should know better than to present things as "fact" in the sense that word is commonly used. In February 1905, Einstien had not published his Theory of Relativity.
Bohr and Heisenberg were at least two decades away from setting out complementarity and the uncertainty principle. Hoyle was about as far from setting out the observations that led to the Big Bang Theory (which, in showing that the universe began, strongly suggests it was caused [Christian critics, take note]). The Wrights had established that we were capable of controlled, powered flight; but the better part of a century had to pass where Science could "prove" that what we could do, a bumblebee could not. The Science of 1905 "proved" that there were distinct human races, one of which was superior to all the others. Science, of all disciplines, should be the last to announce: "Case closed." And this is precisely what Establishment Science gives every appearance of doing in this instance. It's own history should give Science cause to remember that crow tastes awful; that wiping egg off one's face creates as big a mess as it set out to clean.
Finally, if the result of all this is that in more and more places NOTHING is being taught; Science might do well to ask which side in this debate wants simply to be allowed to enter the "marketplace of ideas" of Thomas Jefferson, (himself no mean scientist); which is fighting tooth and nail to see that that doesn't happen


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