Education Evolution Intelligent Design

Deposition in New Orleans

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I’ve been out of pocket a few days to attend the deposition of Barbara Forrest in the Dover County ID Case (I’m an expert witness for the ID side and was advising the ID side’s deposing attorney; by the way, Forrest struck me as very nice in person). I expect I’ll be reporting more on this case at some point. Though seemingly insignificant (a tiny community’s school board enacts a seemingly trivial concession to ID), this case could well blow up with huge implications for ID in high school biology curricula.

7 Replies to “Deposition in New Orleans

  1. 1
    teleologist says:

    Barbara Forrest very nice? I’ve never met her in person but this conjures up the image in the concluding scene from the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Barbara Forrest was the initial image the Nazis opened the Ark.

    Let’s contrast this with Barbara Forrest’s metaphysical terrain.

    I shall use “methodological naturalism” and “philosophical naturalism” to mean what Paul Kurtz defines them to mean in the first and second senses, respectively:

    First, naturalism is committed to a methodological principle within the context of scientific inquiry; i.e., all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. To introduce a supernatural or transcendental cause within science is to depart from naturalistic explanations. On this ground, to invoke an intelligent designer or creator is inadmissible….

    There is a second meaning of naturalism, which is as a generalized description of the universe. According to the naturalists, nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties as encountered in diverse contexts of inquiry. This is a non-reductive naturalism, for although nature is physical-chemical at root, we need to deal with natural processes on various levels of observation and complexity: electrons and molecules, cells and organisms, flowers and trees, psychological cognition and perception, social institutions, and culture….

    Here is how Paul Kurtz, her philosophical soul mate, put it in his book Forbidden Fruit.

    “To ground ethics in God only pushes skepticism one step backward and does not advance the argument … for the God of orthodox theism is no longer believable to the scientific humanist”

  2. 2
    TomG says:

    I’m wondering about the rest of the quote following “to invoke an intelligent designer or creator is inadmissible.”

    Does she mean inadmissible to scientific inquiry, or inadmissible to all explanations whatsoever? The first option is weak, although a case could be made for it if science speaks with a proper humility. (Is it okay to restrict science such that it will not “depart from naturalistic explanations?” Sure–as long as it can admit it if it sees other explanations lying just over its horizons.) The second one is completely out of bounds.

    Based on what else she has written, my guess is she meant the second.

  3. 3

    Lest I give the wrong impression, just because Barbara Forrest
    is pleasant in person does not make her any less an adversary
    in this debate. I’ve now had several encounters with critics
    who are virulent in print, but who in person are friendly in a
    way that does not appear duplicitous (Niall Shanks is another
    case in point, whom I debated at UCLA and whose book with Oxford
    is as harsh in its criticisms of me and ID as any). My take on
    this is that our critics are as committed to their ideas as we
    are to ours, and so vitriol tends to spill out in print. And yet
    on a personal level we’re just human beings muddling by.

  4. 4
    DaveScot says:

    I’m trying to think if I’ve ever met anyone that was nastier in real life
    than in electronic media. I’m drawing a blank. The opposite is true though.
    I’ve met a lot of people that were far nicer in person. Seems to be a
    combination of two factors both based in lack of eye contact. First of all
    I think eye contact causes more feeling of responsibility to act civil. Looking
    someone in the eye and being mean makes one instantly aware of and personally
    responsible for any hurt that is caused. Second is lack of eye contact causes
    readers to read more hostility than might be intended by the writer. If you think
    someone is hostile you’ll read hostility where there is none. In the years I worked
    for Dell Computer, a company of 30,000 people that is driven by email, this happened
    a lot. Quite often many “meetings” with someone was in email threads and then much
    later you’d happen to meet them in person.

  5. 5
    teleologist says:

    I agree with much of what Dave and Bill have said. I would just like to add a fine point to Bill’s comment “My take on this is that our critics are as committed to their ideas as we are to ours”. Maybe it is also true that often as critics, we are hostile to the idea and not necessarily the person. Unfortunately, we are the instruments that convey these ideas therefore we become targets of any vitriol. Obviously there are times that it becomes difficult to separate the person from the idea, because of the actions of the person. I confess this is a struggle for me, separating the person from the idea.

  6. 6
    Benjii says:

    In a debate such as origins there will always be a dichotomy of views. The ID’st or Creationists believe that there is a purpose and that darwinism is insufficient to account for the myriad of life. On the other hand, the trenchant darwinists want to define science as naturalistic and at times atheistic. They deny any role for any purposeful force to guide the diversity of life. Moreover, they display a vitriolic and adamant pursue of anyone who doubts their view. It’s almost as if they go witch hunting for anyone who sympathizes with the advesary. One must remember that worldviews are on the line! That’s the scary part about darwinism. Unlike, any other science such as physics and chemistry, darwinian biology is corrosive to all world views. At this, I don’t mind giving Dan Dennett the benefit of a doubt that darwinism is a ‘universal acid’ that eats at everything. It chews at morality, religion, purpose and the like. In the end, it reduces to pure uselessness.

    Therefore, many people who hold different viewpoints about life and purpose will be enmeshed in the fray. The best thing to do is stay humble and learn from the opposition. Although, my sympathies are with the ID movement I try to keep in open mind as far as the darwinists are concerned. In such a debate, it’s hard to find middle ground between both sides. However, I firmly believe that both sides must defend their positions well without poking any ad hominems or red herrings. We must be persuade wherever the evidence leads.

  7. 7
    scordova says:

    Another vitriolic blogger who is a gosh darn absolute nice guy in person is Jason Rosenhouse. He even came out to some of our IDEA events hosted by Campus Crusade for Christ at his school JMU.

    Regarding Dover, Forrest, Shanks, and Eugenie Scott, we have an interesting situation. Scott and Shanks have given their encouragement of ID being discussed at the university level, perhaps even a course on ID (pro and con). This, I feel is a very important point.

    Also, it seems the Discovery Institute is not encouraging that ID be required in the public schools (like those in Dover), thus there is a degree of agreement between parties on the issue of Dover!

    Apparently Barbara Forrest, and she can correct me if I’m wrong, is the one person who seems determined to see ID not discussed anywhere, especially the university. If that is not her position I would be delighted to hear that, and I will gladly revise my views…

    In any case, it is my belief the door is wide open for ID to make it’s entry into the universities.

    As far as the high schools, I’m “happy with excitement” to hear what happens with the case in Dover. I believe it could be an opportunity for the vise strategy to finally have it’s debut…..

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