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Kansas Hearings: Scopes in Reverse? — Yes and No

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The Kansas State Board of Education is holding hearings this week on whether to teach both strengths and weaknsses of conventional evolutionary theory in the Kansas high school biology curriculum. Currently, only strengths of evolution are being taught. (For up to date news on what’s happening there, go to www.evolutionnews.org).

The hearings were intended to allow both evolutionists as well as critics of evolution to have their say, but the evolutionists decided to boycott the event, so only the critics of evolution are having their say. But there’s an added twist: given the way the hearings are set up, an evolutionist lawyer (Pedro Irigonegaray) gets to interrogate the evolution critics and an evolution critic lawyer (John Calvert) gets to interrogate the evolutionists. Yet given that the evolutionists are boycotting the event, only the evolution critics are being interrogated.

There is thus a reversal as well as a strange parallel with the original Scopes Trial. In the original Scopes Trial, the Tennessee law was against evolution whereas in Kansas and throughout the U.S., the law gives evolution a privileged position in high school biology instruction. That’s the reversal.

The strange parallel is this: In the Scopes Trial, Clarence Darrow (cf. Pedro Irigonegaray) got to interrogate the evolution critics, but William Jennings Bryan (cf. John Calvert) did not get to interrogate the evolutionists. Interestingly, in the original Scopes trial, William Jennings Bryan agreed to be interrogated by Clarence Darrow only if Bryan could in turn interrogate Darrow on Darrow’s views of evolution. Darrow agreed, but then right after interrogating Bryan directed the judge to find Scopes guilty, thereby closing the evidence and thus preventing Bryan from interrogating Darrow (for the details about this shabby ploy, see Edward Sisson’s essay in my book Uncommon Dissent).

Thus, in a crucial way, the Kansas hearings repeat the pattern set by the Scopes Trial, which has been repeated many times since, namely, evolutionists escaped critical scrutiny by not having to undergo cross-examination, in this case by boycotting the hearings.

I’m waiting for the day when the hearings are not voluntary but involve subpoenas in which evolutionists are deposed at length on their views. On that happy day, I can assure you they won’t come off looking well.

80% of the people in the United States are Christians! It totally escapes me what point can be made saying Meyer, Behe, and Dembski are Christians. So are 240 million other Americans! You can't swing a dead cat in the U.S. without hitting a Christian. It would be noteworthy if these three were not Christians because that would place them in a cultural/religious fringe group of some sort. Like, you know, the AAAS membership which is 80% positive atheists. What we have here is not Christians vs. Science. What we have here is atheists vs. everyone else. I'm an agnostic and I find nothing at all wrong with ID. An intelligent designer doesn't frighten me. It's not going to destroy science. Science is about discovering how things work. Intelligence in the universe is a proven possibility already. Quite natural even according to Darwinian theory since it postulates we evolved naturally. The only question is whether or not human genetic engineers were the first genetic engineers. It's a big, old universe. We don't even know what makes up 95% of the apparent matter and energy in it! Some 95% is mysterious dark matter and dark energy. To assume that humans are the first intelligence in that great big unknown is preposterous and the absolute anthropomorphic height of hubris. The Copernican Principle is the guiding principle in science - not materialism - the root of the enlightenment is that the earth is not a special creation, not the center of the universe, and not unique. Therefore the guiding principle of enlightened scientific inquiry dictates we should assume that if genetic engineers arose on earth they arose elsewhere as well. That's what inspires SETI for goodness sake. If it's good science to search for intelligence in the universe it follows that it's good science to search for intelligence in the origin of life on earth too - the two may very well be connected. DaveScot
I really appreciate Ken Miller as a scientist and a believer. I'm sure he is a warm-hearted man who only seeks the truth and objectivity. However, I feel like his debate with Stephen C. Meyer on 'Topic A' was weak and ill-directed. He states that ID is religiously and politically motivated. Yet, how can that be if men like William Dembski and Michael Behe have written and articulated solid arguments for ID. The controversy is on! I thought Ken would come up with better arguments that could've at least come close to a refutation of ID. Although, I must admit that IDists like Phil Johnson, Mike Behe and Bill Dembski are christians, that doesn't mean they seek to establish christianity as a new scientific paradigm. Instead, they see how naturalistic explanations to the outside world are insufficiently explained by neo-darwinism. Plus, I don't understand why Ken Miller brings religion into the fray, when many evolutionists(Huxley, Simpson, Dawkins, Gould)use evolution as a religion in their own right. It doesn't matter what the motivations are. What matters is the scientific evidence for and against the theory of evolution! There is obviously a controversy and we need to go wherever the evidence leads. I say the evidence doesn't look too strong for evolution. Why can't school children know about it. Moreover, Ken say's that Idist's only try to influence children not adults. However,Ken, if ID is out to influence children then why did the Pope of all atheists, Anthony Flew, concede with ID. And he's 81 years old! Again, I don't seek to belittle Ken Miller. However, I find his arguments to be fallacious. If Darwin were to know about DNA, Bacterial Flagellum and so on he would've probably abadoned his theory. Nonetheless, this idea from the steam boat era is still used to explain computer like systems in biology. Besides, evolution is based on observations and computer simulated graphics. ID is also based on observation but not necessarily computer graphics. ID should share a common place with neo-darwinism. In the end, only time can tell where all these discussions will be headed. Benjii
The spin the Darwinian narrative apologists put on the Kansas boycott was hilarious. The problem is that you can establish reasonable doubt about the Darwinian narrative with a few words that are understandable by just about anyone. A library full of dissembling tomes that are understandable by far few people can't quite make a convincing case in support of mutation + natural selection. Mutation/selection is what's on trial in Kansas, not ID, not even common descent. It's pretty much indefensible in the best of circumstances. The bottom line is that it requires an act of faith to accept mutation/selection's ability to create all the observed features of life. Silly, irrelevant rebuttals based based on the "God of the Gaps" theme won't work when it's really "Darwin of the Gaps" that's on trial. DaveScot
It seems to me that arguments from evolutionists are not proofs of their theory, but direct bashing against ID. There is science behind ID, but the Darwinists believe that it is merely Creation in disguise. Another attempt by right-wing radicals. Whenever I get into a debate with an Darwinist, they seem to only lash out at me, my intellect, and my brainwash by religion. Why is it that they do not want to face their critics? Why is it that they have to rethink their previous ideas? That, to me, does not make sense. Pray for the Kansas Board. jch_raider
The evolutionists, given the complete incapability of their arguments, have to apply gross tactics... they remind me the Third World guerrillas. Daniel512
Comment by scordova — May 6, 2005 @ 11:18 pm “I came here thinking that I understood evolution, that I understood the facts,” Christine said. “But now, I don’t know what to think. Who’s right? Is the science that I’m learning really true?” That sentiment infuriates scientists, a group of whom had gathered nearby. They insisted that though evolution should be open to criticism, the classroom was not the place for critiques based on religion.
For it is with your heart that you believe, and it is with your mouth that you confess you are atheist. As Darwin says, "Anyone who trusts in methodological naturalism will never be put to shame.", because there is no morality. For there is big difference between Jew and Gentile the same Lord of Evolution has made some over the others. "Everyone who calls on the name of Atheism will be nihilist." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe unless they be brainwash by other Atheist. And how can they be brainwash unless it is force down their throat. And how can it be force down their throat unless it is disguise under the name of science. As it is written, "How beautiful are the blind leading the blind" -- Atheist Manifesto 1:1-7 teleologist
I suppose since these are public hearings, I can't imagnine that there are constitutional barriers to admitting the testimony in the classroom as part of a presentation on the historical context of naturalistic evolutionary theory. Giving students access to the historical testimony is not necessarily advocacy of one position over another. Perhaps they can be taught it in a history or social studies class. However, the effect of hearing the testimony is obviously very powerful on the young. Though I believe ID's rightful place is in the science class, teaching the controversy might find a safe haven in the history classes everywhere. Thus, a core foundation of ID can be established legally through the history or social studies classes. The history of the political controversy can be taught. These hearings have made it possible! And students and teachers around the country can have access to it. If it can't get into the biology books at first, it can get into the history books. scordova
The effect on the audience is telling, LA times reports: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-evolution6may06,1,7929126.story?ctrack=1&cset=true Christine Caffy, 15, carefully took notes on each speaker's position. The ninth-grader from Bishop Seabury Academy in Lawrence had recently studied evolution in her biology class and came here to learn more about the debate. Afterward, she was curious and confused. "I came here thinking that I understood evolution, that I understood the facts," Christine said. "But now, I don't know what to think. Who's right? Is the science that I'm learning really true?" That sentiment infuriates scientists, a group of whom had gathered nearby. They insisted that though evolution should be open to criticism, the classroom was not the place for critiques based on religion. scordova

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