Intelligent Design

The death of freedom of inquiry in British publicly funded schools

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The United Kingdom has now banned the teaching of “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution” at all schools receiving public funding, including academies and free schools (see also here). In science classes, alternative beliefs about origins may not be presented to pupils “as a scientific theory”; however, discussion of these beliefs is permitted in religious education classes, “as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.” The new guidelines (which readers may access here) “explicitly require that pupils are taught about the theory of evolution,” without specifying which theory of evolution students should be taught (Darwin’s? Wallace’s? Lynn Margulis’s? James Shapiro’s? Masatoshi Nei’s?) However, since one of the grounds for rejecting alternative beliefs about origins is that they do not “accord with the scientific consensus,” one surmises that the authors of the new guidelines have in mind Darwin’s theory of evolution, supplemented by the neutral theory.

From now on, then, students at publicly funded schools in Britain will be taught that it is an established scientific fact that natural biological processes can account for “the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth.” That would presumably include not only the development of life, but also its origin. In other words, abiogenesis will be presented simply as a natural process, with no doubts raised as to its scientific feasibility. And since “life on Earth” includes Homo sapiens and the “complexity of life on earth” includes the complexity of the human mind, students will be taught from now on that the origin of the mind can be accounted for by “natural biological processes.”

Here is a short list of views that will henceforth be banned from serious discussion in science classes at publicly funded schools in Britain:

(i) the view of evolutionary biologist Eugene Koonin that natural biological processes, by themselves, are unable to account for the origin of life on Earth, and that only the existence of a multiverse can make the origin of life plausible, as a lucky accident that had to happen somewhere. As Koonin puts it in his book, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (FT Press, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2012; available online here):

“In other words, even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region [i.e. an observable universe like our own – VJT] is P < 10-1018. Obviously, this version of the breakthrough stage can be considered only in the context of a universe with an infinite (or, at the very least, extremely vast) number of O-regions.” (p. 435)

“The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science, but it is also one of the most important. Origin-of-life research has evolved into a lively, interdisciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the ‘dirty,’ rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth.” (p. 391)

Thus, spontaneous emergence of complex systems that would have to be considered virtually impossible in a finite universe, becomes not only possible but inevitable under MWO, [the “many worlds in one” model of eternal inflation – VJT] even though the prior probabilities of the vast majority of histories to occur in a given universe are vanishingly small. This new power of chance, buttressed by anthropic reasoning, has profound consequences for our understanding of any phenomenon in the universe, and life on Earth cannot be an exception (Koonin, 2007b).” (p. 385)

From now on, students in publicly funded British schools will no longer get the chance to hear what Dr. Eugene Koonin has to say about the problems with origin-of-life scenarios in their science classes.

Nor will they get to hear what this British scientist has to say about the origin of life:

(ii) the opinion of Professor John C. Walton, that:

(a) the chance of forming even one “useful” RNA sequence can be shown to be essentially zero in the lifetime of the earth;
(b) life on Earth therefore could not have originated from non-living matter as a result of blind chemical processes; and
(c) the view that life was designed by an Intelligent Agent deserves a fair hearing.

Professor Walton is a Research Professor of Chemistry at St. Andrews University, and a Chartered Chemist. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Professor Walton made his views on the origin of life public in a recent talk for the Edinburgh Creation Group titled, “The Origin of Life,” given on September 21, 2010, and available online at http://vimeo.com/415018 .

Here are some more theories that students at publicly funded schools in Britain won’t get to hear about in their science classes from now on:

(iii) the view that Darwinian evolution could never have taken place, which the late Nobel Prize winning chemist Richard Smalley came to espouse in 2005, after reading the books Origins of Life and Who Was Adam? authored by Dr. Hugh Ross (an astrophysicist) and Dr. Fazale Rana (a biochemist).

The evidence regarding the change in Dr. Smalley’s views comes from an online article by Dr. Hugh Ross and Dr. Fazale (“Fuz”) Rana at their Web site, Reasons to Believe, dated December 20, 2005, and entitled, Creation Scientists Applaud PA Judge’s Ruling Against ‘Intelligent Design’ – Dressing Up ID Is No Substitute for Real Science (Web address: http://www.reasons.org/controversial-topics/intelligent-design-movement/creation-scientists-applaud-pa-judges ). In the article, Dr. Smalley was quoted as saying:

“Evolution has just been dealt its death blow. After reading Origins of Life, with my background in chemistry and physics, it is clear evolution could not have occurred. The new book, Who Was Adam, is the silver bullet that puts the evolutionary model to death.”

(iv) the view held by the late Professor Lynn Margulis (d. 2011), that natural selection could not explain evolution, and that symbiotic mechanisms were the driving engine of evolution.

In an interview with Discover magazine on 16 April 2011 (available online at http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/16-interview-lynn-margulis-not-controversial-right ), Professor Margulis stated that “Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create.” She also described symbiogenesis as a major source of innovation in evolution, and stated that “There is no gradualism in the fossil record.”

Professor Margulis’ statement that Neo-Darwinism “is in a complete funk” can be found in a 1991 review by C. Mann, “Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother,” in Science 252 (5004): 378–381, doi:10.1126/science.252.5004.378, PMID 17740930.

(v) the non-Darwinian evolutionary theory espoused by Professor James Shapiro, a geneticist who dismisses natural selection as a shaping force in evolution and espouses a theory he refers to as natural genetic engineering.

For instance, on the very first page of his new best-selling book, Evolution: a view from the 21st century, Professor Shapiro writes: “Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change.”

Additionally, in an article entitled, “Mobile DNA and evolution in the 21st century” (Mobile DNA 2010, 1:4 doi:10.1186/1759-8753-1-4, published 25 January 2010), Shapiro maintains that vertebrates and flowering plants appeared within a single generation, as a result of whole genome doubling [WGD], a mechanism which he describes as follows: “WGD is yet another evolutionary process outside the Darwinist perspective that occurs suddenly (that is, within a single generation) and simultaneously affects multiple phenotypic characters.”

(vi) the views which were held by Darwin’s contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), on evolution during the latter part of his life, and which were set forth in his book, The World of Life (London: Chapman and Hall, 1910). While Wallace fully accepted evolution by natural selection as a fact which explains the diversity of living things, he also believed on empirical grounds that unguided natural processes were, by themselves, unable to account for: (a) the origin of life (see the quote below); (b) the appearance of sentience in animals; and (c) the emergence of human intelligence. Wallace believed that the process of evolution had been continually guided by some kind of Higher Intelligence (whoever it may be), and that this Intelligence had intervened in history to bring about the emergence of life from non-living matter, the subsequent appearance of sentient beings and finally, the emergence of intelligence (in human beings).

The evidence that Wallace was skeptical about attempts to explain the origin of life in purely materialistic terms can be found in his essay, The Origin of Life. A Reply to Dr. Schaefer (S700: 1912), which was printed in the Everyman issue of 18 October 1912:

I submit that, in view of the actual facts of growth and organisation as here briefly outlined, and that living protoplasm has never been chemically produced, the assertion that life is due to chemical and mechanical processes alone is quite unjustified. NEITHER THE PROBABILITY OF SUCH AN ORIGIN, NOR EVEN ITS POSSIBILITY, HAS BEEN SUPPORTED BY ANYTHING WHICH CAN BE TERMED SCIENTIFIC FACTS OR LOGICAL REASONING.
(The capitals are Wallace’s. – VJT.)

Wallace’s view that natural selection could not account for the evolution of human intelligence is common knowledge. In a letter to Darwin dated April 28, 1869, responding to Darwin’s dismay over a recent article he had published in the Quarterly Review, Wallace elaborated his views, and argued that not only human mental faculties, but also many aspects of human anatomy, could not be explained as a result of natural selection:

It seems to me that if we once admit the necessity of any action beyond “natural selection” in developing man, we have no reason whatever for confining that agency to his brain. On the mere doctrine of chances it seems to me in the highest degree improbable that so many points of structure, all tending to favour his mental development, should concur in man alone of all animals. If the erect posture, the freedom of the anterior limbs from purposes of locomotion, the powerful and opposable thumb, the naked skin, the great symmetry of form, the perfect organs of speech, and, in his mental faculties, calculation of numbers, ideas of symmetry, of justice, of abstract reasoning, of the infinite, of a future state, and many others, cannot be shown to be each and all useful to man [on the principle of utility] in the very lowest state of civilization — how are we to explain their co-existence in him alone of the whole series of organized being? … It seems to me that the onus probandi will lie with those who maintain that man, body and mind, could have been developed from a quadrumanous [four-handed – VJT] animal by “natural selection.”

(vii) the opinion of Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles (d. 1997), that the first appearance of human consciousness cannot be explained in materialistic terms, and that each of us consists of an immaterial soul interacting with a human body.

For example, in his book, Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self (Routledge, 1989), Eccles openly declared his belief, based on scientific evidence, in the existence of an immaterial soul:

Since materialist solutions fail to account for our experienced uniqueness, I am constrained to attribute the uniqueness of the Self or Soul to a supernatural spiritual creation. To give the explanation in theological terms: each Soul is a new Divine creation which is implanted into the growing foetus at some time between conception and birth. (1989, p. 237.)

I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition.

We have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. (1989, p. 241).

(viii) the opinion of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, that the universe we live in is probably a simulation created by aliens. (Dr. Bostrom’s simulation argument is available online at http://www.simulation-argument.com/ .)

(ix) the opinion of Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephson, that life and mind are more fundamental than matter, and that our own universe was generated by some sort of mind, but not by a supernatural one. Dr. Josephson professed his belief in a version of Intelligent Design in a lecture that he delivered to the Cambridge Physics Society on March 5, 2008, entitled, “A Critical Point for Science?” Here’s a quote from the abstract:

Current physics implicitly assumes matter is fundamental, life and mentality being secondary. There are reasons for thinking that such a picture may be incomplete, leading to error. This lecture describes a new conceptual foundation that reverses the order of things, making life and mentality more basic than matter.

Dr. Josephson then proceeded to discuss three examples: telepathy, the memory of water, and cold fusion, which he was inclined to accept. He then proceeded to discuss Intelligent Design:

So I said at some point this theory looks a bit like theology, and I can imagine intelligent design is real. Intelligent Design is rejected just because it’s part of the scientific culture that it cannot be true, you must not talk about it, but it’s not actually disproved. I think it will turn out that there is a design and that the usual theories are wrong there as well.

Readers can view a slideshow of Dr. Josephson’s talk here. Slides 16, 23, 30 and 31 should be of special interest.

These are just a few of the scientific views that students in science classes at publicly funded British schools won’t get the chance to hear about any more. Academic freedom, RIP.

For the record, the Discover Institute opposes any effort to mandate the teaching of Intelligent Design in publicly funded schools, as Casey Luskin explains in an excellent post here. However, it also maintains that these schools should fairly present the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution. Alternative theories should not be taught as part of the curriculum, but an environment in which ideas about origins can be discussed freely should be encouraged and promoted.

24 Replies to “The death of freedom of inquiry in British publicly funded schools

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    All atheists and materialists are fascists at heart and deeply religious to boot. This is a jihad being conducted in the name of science.

  2. 2
    Upright BiPed says:

    …and they all said “moo” if they said anything at all.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    The United Kingdom has now banned the teaching of “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution” at all schools receiving public funding, including academies and free schools (see also here).

    Sad, truly sad. But let’s remove the beam from our own eye first, shall we? Let us not denounce censorship elsewhere while turning a blind eye to it right here at UD.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    How to explain synthetic/designed life? Man made designs are Natural?

    http://synthetickingdom.wordpr.....e-of-life/

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    Mung:

    Let us not denounce censorship elsewhere while turning a blind eye to it right here at UD.

    Mung, UD is not obligated either by law or by principle to be free of censorship. The government is.

    UD is free to do anything it wants to. Government is not.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    OT
    The British “The Guardian” published the following report, which may serve as an illustration for this biblical verse:

    “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

    World Cup 2014: England got everything right – except the football

    England have a 72-strong entourage with them in Brazil, including a psychiatrist, nutritionists and a turf specialist. The only thing they do not have are any World Cup points

    Ultimately it always comes back to the same thing. When Roy Hodgson and his players arrived back in Rio de Janeiro it was to the best training facilities in the city. They have a 72-strong entourage from the Football Association including a psychiatrist, nutritionists, a turf specialist, a cook and at least one guy whose job seems to be to spray the players with water when they start overheating. They have industrial fans, heat chambers and individually tailored recovery drinks after inviting scientists from Loughborough University to study their sweat patterns. Hodgson has talked to Sir Dave Brailsford and Lord Coe about how to co-ordinate a successful team and everyone is agreed: nothing more could have been done to create the right environment.

    “No excuses,” Wayne Rooney had said. Steven Gerrard described it as the most meticulously planned operation he had known. Hodgson could scarcely have sounded more confident. “Anyone who thinks we can’t win the World Cup has to be barking up the wrong tree,” he said, two days before landing in Brazil.

    More on this at http://www.theguardian.com/foo.....f-comments

  7. 7
    CLAVDIVS says:

    vjtorley

    Here is a short list of views that will henceforth be banned from serious discussion in science classes at publicly funded schools in Britain:

    No scientific theories are banned from being taught in British science classes.

    i. Koonin – A theory about OOL that does not reject the scientific theory of evolution; therefore not banned.

    ii. Walton – Doesn’t even pretend to have a scientific theory to be taught.

    iii. Smalley – Doesn’t even pretend to have a scientific theory to be taught.

    iv. Margulis – A theory involving natural biological processes; therefore not banned.

    v. Shapiro – A theory involving natural biological processes; therefore not banned.

    vi. Wallace – Does not reject the scientific theory of evolution; therefore not banned.

    vii. Eccles – Does not reject the scientific theory of evolution; therefore not banned.

    viii. Bostrom – A metaphysical argument that does not reject the scientific theory of evolution, but rather claims that it occurs within a simulated environment; therefore probably not banned, but why would you teach this sort of metaphysics in science class anyway?

    ix. Josephson – Does not reject the scientific theory of evolution; therefore not banned.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Orwell’s 1984 was meant to be a warning, not a guide!

    1984 – Darwinbots attend a lecture – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYecfV3ubP8

    Evolution, it’s true because we say so!!!

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

  9. 9
    ppolish says:

    Teaching ID in Religious Studies classes is fine I would think. If the UK Gov thinks ID is Religious so be it. Kind of cool that the Religion classes will have the more updated Science. Religion teachers need help/advice? Hopefully they will get the support.

  10. 10
    Robert Byers says:

    Britain is not and does not have north americas great history for allowing the truth and freedom to pursue the truth in the nation.
    In fact this is like the common prayer book issue that started the english civil war.
    its truly evil and a rejection of christianity and english freedom.
    The people are enslaved to a conclusion in a subject of scholarship.
    One could pick it to pieces.
    they will allow in religion courses other ideas then evolution AS LONG as they are not presented as VALID alternatives to science ones.
    That means NOT THERE EITHER.
    they are literally demanding a end to anyone saying iD?YEC is right about origins (in schools).
    Literally demanding, first time ever, a conclusion in a subject of scholarship is settled and no opposition will be tolerated.
    Surely they feel a threat and surely its bery important to them.
    surely this shows a hatred of God and Genesis and not a loving defence of evolution.
    They are truly malicious and truly foolish to presume to such authority.
    I’m calling Oliver Cromwell. He would deal with them as they deserve.
    This is about FREEDOM FREEDOM FREEDOM and TRUTH.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    If anyone is interested in helping some of these British students defend themselves against the mandated propaganda of Darwinian ‘science’, some of the falsehoods that students in Britain, by force of law, will now be taught have been exposed by Well’s ‘Icons of Evolution’:

    The “Icons of Evolution” – video playlist – video
    http://www.youtube.com/playlis.....94E1D66A08

    Dr. Wells writes a article defending his criticism against the Ten Icons of Evolution in detail here:

    Inherit the Spin: The NCSE Answers “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2....._answ.html

    (Not) Making the Grade: Recent Textbooks & Their Treatment of Evolution (Icons of Evolution update) podcast and paper – October 2011
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....nt_te.html

    Casey Luskin recently wrote an article defending the integrity of Well’s work here:

    A Solid 10: Concluding My Review of Massimo Pigliucci’s Treatment of Jonathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution – June 6, 2014
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86281.html

    Another resource exposing some of the false evidence is here:

    A Critique of Douglas Theobald’s – “29 Evidences for Macroevolution” by Ashby Camp
    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1b.asp

    To further inoculate against Darwinian ‘science’, a deeper, more scholarly, look at the false religious metaphysics that drives Darwinian ‘science’ is offered in Dr. Hunter’s upcoming online course ‘Darwin Scholars’

    Darwin Scholars
    http://www.darwinscholars.com/index.html

    Selling Evolution To Young People Through Deception
    podcast – On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin sits down with CSC Fellow Dr. Cornelius Hunter, who recently signed up to take a free online course at Duke University titled “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution.” Tune in as Dr. Hunter shares about his experience & discusses the misrepresentations and fallacies that are presented in the typical undergraduate evolutionary biology course.
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....0_02-08_00

    Supplemental Quote and Note:

    “Grand Darwinian claims rest on undisciplined imagination”
    Dr. Michael Behe

    Michael Behe: Intelligent Design – interview on radio program – ‘The Mind Renewed’
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9SmPNQrQHE

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 1:21-23
    For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things.

    How Great Is Our God (World Edition) [feat. Chris Tomlin] – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....qs3p8zzvlw

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: podcast – Reviewing Cosmos: The Mistreatment of Science History
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....5_40-07_00

  13. 13
    vjtorley says:

    CLAVDIVS

    Thank you for your post. I’m afraid I have to disagree with your legal reasoning. The new guidelines specify quite clearly that only theories which invoke “natural biological processes” can be taught in biology classes. Since Eccles and Wallace both invoked processes which went beyond “natural biological processes” in order to account for the appearance of human beings, they would automatically be barred under the new guidelines.

    You defend Margulis and Shapiro on the grounds that their theories invoke only “natural biological processes,” and you maintain that Koonin, Bostrom and Josephson do not reject what the British government guidelines refer to as “the scientific theory of evolution.” But as I argued above, the scientific theory of evolution can only mean “the theory of evolution currently accepted by a consensus of scientists” (indeed, the report explicitly condemns what it calls “creationism” for going against that consensus) – in other words, Darwinism and/or the neutral theory of evolution, NOT neo-Lamarckianism, symbiotic evolution, natural genetic engineering, or what have you.

    As for Koonin, he argues that natural biological processes, by themselves, are unable to account for the origin of life on Earth, and that only the existence of a multiverse can make the origin of life plausible. That doesn’t sound like “the scientific theory of evolution” to me. Bostrom makes mind prior to the existence of life on Earth, whereas Darwinism attempts to explain mind as an emergent property of life, when suitably configured. Josephson does the same thing: he puts intelligence first, and he even uses the term “intelligent design.”

    As for why I’d want to teach Bostrom’s simulation theory in a science classroom: that should be pretty obvious. Wouldn’t you want to know if you were living inside a simulation? And if someone puts forward a mathematical argument to say that we are, don’t you think that merits serious scientific discussion?

    Finally, you rebuke Walton and Smalley for not even pretending to have a scientific theory to be taught. But it’s not necessary to have an alternative theory of one’s own, in order to discredit an existing scientific theory. If we don’t know how we got here, then so be it. If John Walton and the late Richard Smalley were able to refute abiogenesis and/or Darwinian evolution through a process of scientific argumentation, then for that reason alone they should be given a fair hearing in high school science classrooms in Britain.

  14. 14
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi vjtorley

    Well I’m afraid I have to disagree with your invalid legal reasoning. Here is what the regulations actually say: government funding prevents schools …

    (23E)…from teaching ‘creationism’ as scientific fact. …
    (23F) ‘Creationism’ … is any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution. The parties acknowledge that Creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream Churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican & Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory. …
    (23H) The Secretary of State acknowledges that clauses 2.43 and 2.44 of the Funding Agreement, and clauses 23E and 23G above do not prevent discussion of beliefs about the origins of the Earth and living things, such as creationism, in Religious Education, as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.

    These regulations certainly do not say “only theories which invoke ‘natural biological processes’ can be taught in biology classes”. They ban from science classes any doctrine or theory that:
    – holds that natural biological process cannot account for the history, diversity and complexity of life
    and rejects the theory of evolution
    and is rejected by most mainstream religions
    and is rejected by the scientific community
    and does not accurately or consistently employ the scientific method

    Koonin, Margulis, Shapiro, Wallace, Eccles and Josephson do not propose any theory that holds natural meets all these specifications for Creationism, so they are not banned.

    Walton’s and Smalley’s unscientific ideas appear to be specifically banned from science class. So what? If their criticisms are sound (which I doubt) they can be learned about outside science classes.

    Bostrom is probably not banned, as I said; if its not metaphysics but a testable scientific theory, well good, its not banned by these regulations.

    I do think this is a very positive development for education in Britain.

  15. 15
    humbled says:

    As a British man I must say this is highly disturbing but not surprising. Any system that teaches fairy tales and magical processes has ZERO place in a science class.

    You see, when the scientific dogma of the day cannot be defended scientifically, the proponents try to defend it in other ways, such as through the legal system. To me, this is just another sign that science is shifting gears, and those who don’t want the gears to shift are digging their heels in.

  16. 16
    vjtorley says:

    Hi CLAVDIVS,

    Thank you for your post. I’m afraid I can’t agree with the reading of the new regulations which you propose. You write:

    These regulations certainly do not say “only theories which invoke ‘natural biological processes’ can be taught in biology classes”. They ban from science classes any doctrine or theory that:
    – holds that natural biological process cannot account for the history, diversity and complexity of life
    and rejects the theory of evolution
    and is rejected by most mainstream religions
    and is rejected by the scientific community
    and does not accurately or consistently employ the scientific method

    The extra “ands” that you attach are not additional conditions that must be satisfied, as you apparently believe, but merely the stated grounds for justifying the banning the teaching of “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.” It matters not one whit if a given evolutionary heresy, such as Koonin’s invocation of the multiverse to explain the origin of life, satisfies all or any of these criteria. All that matters is that the theory in question denies the adequacy of natural biological processes to account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth. That’s how I read the regulations.

    Still, I’m intrigued. Perhaps there are school superintendents in Britain who read the new regulations in the same way as you do. What we really need is a test case to clarify the meaning of the new regulations. Is there some publicly funded school in Britain which is willing to stick its neck out and discuss the merits of one of these “heretical” scientific theories in a science classroom, even if it means going to court? That would be very interesting.

  17. 17
    Jon Garvey says:

    Another British assessment (mine!) here.

  18. 18
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ

    A few notes:

    * This just extends a guideline that already applied to vast majority of schools (maintained and free schools) to academies. Hardly anyone noticed because it made very little difference to standard practice in the vast majority of schools.

    * The guidelines exclude teaching of theories which hold that life cannot be accounted for natural biological processes as scientific fact. As none of the views you discuss are widely held amongst the scientific establishment it would a irresponsible teacher who taught them as scientific fact. It is, perhaps, a shame that this has to be put into regulation but the practice of some schools has made this necessary.

    * The guidelines do not preclude discussion of alternatives to natural processes in RE classes and I can’t see anywhere where they preclude such discussion in science classes (although that is not explicitly mentioned).

    * The guidelines do not preclude discussion of any concerns with current evolutionary theory.

    Not much loss of freedom of inquiry here I think.

  19. 19
    CLAVDIVS says:

    vjtorley @ 16

    The extra “ands” that you attach are not additional conditions that must be satisfied …

    Actually, they are.

    The regulations ban teaching ‘creationism’, so the question becomes: what is the definition of ‘creationism’. Well, it is initially defined as “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.” The “and therefore” is conjunctive – to be banned the teaching in question must reject the efficacy of natural biological processes and reject the scientific theory of evolution.

    Additionally, the definition of ‘creationism’ is given even greater specification in 23F:

    The parties acknowledge that Creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream Churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican & Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method…

    This makes it crystal clear that what is banned is any teaching that rejects the efficacy of natural biological processes to account for the history, diversity and complexity of life, and rejects the scientific theory of evolution, and is one of those teachings rejected by most mainstream churches and the scientific community, and does not employ the scientific method etc.

    I do not think a test case is likely to arise from this, because to anyone with an ounce of legal training the definition is quite clear.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    VJT,

    I loved the list of banned doctrines or theories you came up with! You should write a book, Banned In Britain! or The Disunited Kingdom: Darwin Rolls Over In His Grave.

  21. 21
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Jon Garvey, Mark Frank and CLAVDIVS,

    Thank you very much for your very interesting posts. I’ll have more to say about them tonight.

    Hi Mung,

    Excellent titles, but I somehow don’t think my book would sell well. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

  22. 22
    vjtorley says:

    Hi CLAVDIVS,

    You write (emphasis mine):

    These regulations certainly do not say “only theories which invoke ‘natural biological processes’ can be taught in biology classes”. They ban from science classes any doctrine or theory that:

    – holds that natural biological process cannot account for the history, diversity and complexity of life
    and rejects the theory of evolution
    and is rejected by most mainstream religions
    and is rejected by the scientific community
    and does not accurately or consistently employ the scientific method

    On your reading, Intelligent Design of any stripe could still be taught in publicly funded schools. The Catholic Church does not reject Intelligent Design or even six-day creationism. Indeed, I have a book at home titled, The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11 by Rev. Victor P. Warkulwiz, M.S.S., arguing for a literal reading of Genesis, with a foreword by Most. Rev. Robert Francis Visa, Bishop of Baker. It’s definitely a minority view in Catholic circles, but it’s a legitimate view nonetheless. I’m quite sure there are Anglican creationists, too, even if . Here’s one: http://ugleyvicar.blogspot.jp/.....nists.html

    So when the report declares,

    The parties acknowledge that Creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream Churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican & Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community.

    it is simply wrong in its facts.

  23. 23
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Mark Frank,

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    As none of the views you discuss are widely held amongst the scientific establishment it would a irresponsible teacher who taught them as scientific fact.

    I agree. All I am arguing is that they should be freely discussed in science classrooms.

    You add:

    The guidelines do not preclude discussion of alternatives to natural processes in RE classes and I can’t see anywhere where they preclude such discussion in science classes (although that is not explicitly mentioned).

    That’s a good point. The guidelines are unclear on whether alternative theories can be discussed, although they do state that in science classes, alternative beliefs about origins may not be presented to pupils “as a scientific theory.” Perhaps they could be presented along the lines of: “this is what a few scientists think.”

    Finally, you note:

    The guidelines do not preclude discussion of any concerns with current evolutionary theory.

    What this suggests is that the best tactic (from an Intelligent Design-friendly perspective) might be to play the different theories of evolution (and the origin of life) off against each other, by focusing on each faction’s criticisms of the other factions. That could certainly cause quite a bit of damage.

    Thanks again.

  24. 24
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Jon Garvey,

    Thank you very much for your link. I was very much struck by the following passage in your post:

    Now, given what I’ve just said, the actual wording of the sentence about faith groups rejecting what they define as creationism is pernicious. For it is not simply an explanation of why they have outlawed such creationism: rather it is an article of faith to which the schools must subscribe:

    The parties acknowledge that Creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream Churches and religious traditions…

    You want the money, you have to agree that only kooks have a problem with naturalistic Neodarwinism as Ultimate Truth.

    If that isn’t an attempt to stifle free speech, then I don’t know what is.

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