Intelligent Design

Wisconsin does a Dover in reverse: $1000 reward to first teacher who challenges policy

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I’m offering $1000 to the first teacher in Wisconsin who (1) challenges this policy (should it be enacted) by teaching ID as science within a Wisconsin public school science curriculum (social science does not count), (2) gets him/herself fired, reprimanded, or otherwise punished in some actionable way, (3) obtains legal representation from a public interest law firm (e.g., Alliance Defense Fund), and (4) takes this to trial. I encourage others to contribute in the same way. Thank you Wisconsin.

Bill bans creationism as science
By Judith Davidoff
February 7, 2006
Source: http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?ntid=71780&ntpid=4

Creationism or intelligent design could not be taught as science in Wisconsin public schools under a first-of-its-kind proposal announced today by Madison state Rep. Terese Berceau.

Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science. Faith-based theories, however, could be discussed in other contexts.

Alan Attie, a biochemistry professor at UW-Madison, said the bill puts Wisconsin on the map in the ongoing controversy over evolution and intelligent design.

“We can be the un-Kansas,” Attie said in an interview.

Kansas, Attie said, has been the object of derision since the state’s Board of Education in 2005 adopted teaching standards that support intelligent design.

“To position us in exactly the opposite direction and be the first in the nation to do it, I’m thrilled about,” Attie added.

In recent years a growing movement known as intelligent design – the idea that evolution was shaped by an intelligent creator – has challenged the teaching of evolution in public schools.

At a news conference this morning at the State Capitol, Berceau, a Democrat, was flanked by Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, and 13 top researchers from the University of Wisconsin who helped draft the legislation.

She said her bill addresses the attempts in Wisconsin and across the country to undermine science education.

“It is designed to promote good science education, and prevent the introduction of pseudo-science in the science classroom,” she said.

“It does not ban the discussion of intelligent design or any other ideology in schools in nonscientific contexts. It simply states that if something is presented as science, it must actually be science.”

No one at the Discovery Institute, the main booster of intelligent design, could be reached immediately for comment this morning.

Michael Cox, assistant chair of the biochemistry department at UW-Madison, said intelligent design is an “attempt to introduce fake science as science into the school curriculum in public schools.”

In an interview, Cox said he hopes the bill improves the atmosphere for science in the state.

“I’m personally concerned as a working scientist that science is under assault in this country in a lot of different ways,” Cox said. “I’d like to see some positive signs that the environment for science can be improved and I think this bill will do that.”

Cox and others at the news conference said it is important to support science education in order to produce sound students, keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology, and maintain a growing and strong economy.

Berceau’s bill would require that anything presented as science in the classroom be testable as a scientific hypothesis and pertain to natural, not supernatural, processes. The material would also have to be consistent with any description of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.

Berceau stressed in an interview that intelligent design and any other ideology could still be discussed in school in nonscientific contexts.

“You can even include it in a science class if you want to say why it’s not a science,” she said. “Otherwise it should be taught in a history of religion class or social studies or philosophy. But it’s not a science and shouldn’t be taught as a science.”

She said the bill was inspired by recent assaults on science in the nation and state.

In Grantsburg, Wis., for instance, the school district in 2004 voted to direct its science department to “teach all theories of origin.”

Grantsburg School District Superintendent Joni Burgin said today, however, that the school district has revised its policy and that it would, in fact, comply with Berceau’s bill.

“There’s no creationism, no religion,” Burgin said.

Assembly Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, did not return phone calls for comment.

27 Replies to “Wisconsin does a Dover in reverse: $1000 reward to first teacher who challenges policy

  1. 1
    scordova says:

    Bill,

    Your instincts are correct. In my interactions with Nick Matzke and Jack Krebs I asked if the following represents their views:

    1. school children with creationist religious beliefs should have those religious beliefs changed since it impedes their scientific understanding

    2. public schools are an appropriate means of changing their religious beliefs regarding origins since such beliefs are an impediment to their ability to do science

    They didn’t answer.

    Salvador

  2. 2
    charles1859 says:

    At first glance I thought the caption read “Bill Bans Creationism” and I thought that it was Dembski who saw the Light or a different Light, who knows, and banned Creationism. And I thought that was pretty cool and figured that, finally, he could get som traction behind his ideas.

  3. 3
    Ryan says:

    Pretty sweet. If I had the money…

  4. 4
    saxe17 says:

    Dave,

    Can I comeout now?

    I want to throw $100.00 into this pot.

    Thanks,
    Saxe

    Free as a bird! Be kind now. 🙂 -ds

  5. 5
    GilDodgen says:

    “Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science.”

    How is historical macroevolution through the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection testable according to scientific method?

    “She said her bill addresses the attempts in Wisconsin and across the country to undermine science education.”

    Thinking critically about inferences drawn from evidence does not undermine science education, it strengthens it. Blindly accepting conclusions that are disputed in mainstream scientific literature, and ignoring disconfirming evidence, weakens science education.

    “‘It is designed to promote good science education, and prevent the introduction of pseudo-science in the science classroom,’ she said. … The material would also have to be consistent with any description of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.”

    See my comments about pseudoscience and a statement issued by the National Academy of Sciences in the UD blog posting below entitled “Behe Responds to Judge Jones.”

    “Cox and others at the news conference said it is important to support science education in order to produce sound students, keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology, and maintain a growing and strong economy.”

    Based on the evidence, I’m convinced that blind-watchmaker biological evolution, as taught to me in the public schools, is thoroughly bogus. I earn my living writing software for an aerospace R&D company, something most people would refer to as rocket science. My scepticism about Darwinism has had no effect on my ability to contribute to the cutting edge of technology.

  6. 6
    tinabrewer says:

    What always blows me away when I read such articles is the absurd overemphasis on the “its not science” argument. It is such an obvious attempt to avoid actually discussing the meat and bones of the ID challenge while at the same time sounding self-righteous in defense of scientific purity. Does any other subject in school demand such rigorous standards of exclusion? Do English teachers hope to pass legislation to prevent science-like ideas from popping up in the literature they discuss? “Its not English! Its fine if Timmy wants to read about that in science class, but not in my class!” The metamessage is of course that science is truth. You cannot occlude the purity of truth, and therefore anything which threatens this purity must be violently resisted. When you peel away the skin, it is the same inner attitude of the unrelenting religous zealot. Hmmm…

  7. 7
    russ says:

    “Cox and others at the news conference said it is important to support science education in order to produce sound students, keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology, and maintain a growing and strong economy.”

    Since biochemists are now making pronouncements about the possible economic impact of teaching ID as science, it would be interesting to hear from some actual economists on the issue. Have economists actually studied this? Could the teaching of ID produce a recession or increase the U.S. trade deficit? Would Pfizer, GE or Boeing lose their competitive edges if they employed scientists who were skeptical of neo-Darwinism?

  8. 8
    dougmoran says:

    Bill – I throw my support behind yours with a matchnig $1000 commitment. Good for you for kicking it off!

  9. 9
    crandaddy says:

    Gil asks: “How is historical macroevolution through the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection testable according to scientific method?”

    It’s not. It’s a just so story invented by the priests of materialism who have gone to great lengths to make it look like legitimate science by exaggerating, patching up, filling in, and supplementing it ad nauseum. Intelligent Design poses a legitimate challenge to materialistic evolution and exposes its religious underpinnings for what they really are. Doesn’t the fact that the Darwinists like to slap a creationist label on ID and define science so that it is excluded as a valid explanation then turn around and offer scientific arguments against it strike anyone else as being the height of hypocrisy? Sorry to vent, but this stuff makes me mad sometimes.

    This bill being proposed in Wisconsin basically amounts to academic sensorship. I applaud Dr. Dembski and Doug Moran for making their offers. I would like to contribute, myself, but hesitate to state an exact amount at the present time. Could we be witnessing the developing antithesis of the Scopes Trial here?

  10. 10
    Joseph says:

    GilDodgen is correct. IF they stick to what they just stated what will Wiscosin teach in science classrooms?

    What next? Ban Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Pasteur and others from being discussed in a science classroom because they were Creationists whose “science” was uncovering God’s handi-work?

    These people illustrate exactly why ID needs to be presented in public schools. The misconceptions and misrepresentations of ID by public figures is staggering- and very upsetting.

    What about giving the same offer to teachers in the Dover, PA school duistrict? Or has that already been offered?

    What if we get pro-ID parents involved. When they see their kid(s) being taught that which is NOT subject to the scientific method they should be able to sue the school…

  11. 11
    Scott says:

    only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science.

    There goes Darwinian MacroEvolution out the classroom window.

  12. 12
    Scott says:

    Oh snap, Gil! You beat me to the punch. 🙂

  13. 13
    Scott says:

    “Based on the evidence, I’m convinced that blind-watchmaker biological evolution, as taught to me in the public schools, is thoroughly bogus.”

    I would add that it’s Antediluvian SteamBoat-era, pseudo-enlightenment claptrap and should be kicked to the curb.

  14. 14
    chaosengineer says:

    This is an interesting proposal, but it really needs a tighter definition of ID. As it stands, it’s just inviting a repeat of the problems in Dover and California, where people where trying to sneak Biblical Literalism into the classroom by dishonestly calling it “Intelligent Design”.

    It’s your money, but I’d hate to see someone get a $1000 reward for lying.

    I also wanted to say something about Salvador’s questions, because I think they’re good ones:

    1. school children with creationist religious beliefs should have those religious beliefs changed since it impedes their scientific understanding

    2. public schools are an appropriate means of changing their religious beliefs regarding origins since such beliefs are an impediment to their ability to do science

    Let’s define some terms. I’d say that Young Earth Creationism makes the following claims:

    1. The Earth is about 6,000 years old. About 4,000 years ago the whole world was flooded up to the peaks of the tallest mountains, and almost all land animals were destroyed.

    2. God isn’t deceitful, so evidence of this is obvious to any unbiased observer.

    3. Scientists who say that there’s no evidence for a young Earth or a global flood therefore aren’t merely misinformed…they’re willfully denying the truth as part of some vast atheistic or Satanic conspiracy.

    Do you think that’s a fair description of the situation?

    If so, then the questions to ask are:

    1. If children are being taught misinformation at home…and not just harmless misinformation, but destructive conspiracy theories…should society in general (and the public schools in particular) try to educate them out of it?

    2. What if the misinformation has its roots in religion? Should society handle things differently?

    I think that society has a moral obligation to try to get rid of dangerous misinformation. But of course religion is a touchy subject, so we need to be cautious. We need to be absolutely sure that the beliefs in question are objectively wrong and not just a simple difference of opinion.

    So I don’t think the schools should categorically deny Theistic Evolution or Intelligent Design. They should just point out that Science is about finding the simplest theory that’s consistent with the observed facts. (Theistic Evolution is inherently faith-based and therefore outside the realm of science, and Intelligent Design is potentially scientific but the evidence is considered weak and lots more research is needed before it can be widely accepted.)

    I don’t see any practical benefit in teaching theoretical historical biology to 9th graders. There’s a great big wide world of wonderful experimental biology with practical knowledge gained from observation and experiment on living tissue that we can teach them. Evolution on a grand scale happens too slowly to have any practical impact in the world today. It’s entirely esoteric. Similarities and differences between living species can be studied for a lifetime without ever needing to reach a philosophic conclusion about chance vs. design, determinism vs. indeterminism. However, if you’re going to mention the worldview driven by philosophic indeterminism and lack of purpose in the universe then the opposing view must also be presented for balance lest the 9th grade biology classroom become a place of philosophic indoctrination instead of biology. -ds

  15. 15
    scordova says:

    Get a load of this, PZ Myers is with Bill Dembski on this one:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....nst_it.php

    “Noooooooo! This isn’t how to do it!

    ….
    This is one case where I’d side with the Republicans.”

    Hey, PZ, it’s only February, not April 1. 🙂

  16. 16
    EJ Klone says:

    The bill does not specifically mention creationism and ID, here’s the actual text of it:

    SECTION 1. 118.018 of the statutes is created to read:

    118.018 Science instruction. The school board shall ensure that any material presented as science within the school curriculum complies with all of the following:

    (1) The material is testable as a scientific hypothesis and describes only natural processes.

    (2) The material is consistent with any description or definition of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.

  17. 17
    jaredl says:

    When it hits Tennessee, I’ll volunteer (if it can happen within the next four or so months).

  18. 18
    Mats says:

    “I’m personally concerned as a working scientist that science is under assault in this country in a lot of different ways”

    The only ones who can see that true science under assault are those who restrict scientificcal debate about the Darwinian myth.

    “Cox and others at the news conference said it is important to support science education in order to produce sound students, keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology, and maintain a growing and strong economy”

    Translation: “If we don’t preach..erm..I mean, teach evolutionism, the USA will be destroyed!”

    “Berceau’s bill would require that anything presented as science in the classroom be testable as a scientific hypothesis and pertain to natural, not supernatural, processes”.

    Nevermind the fact that ID doesn’t opppose natural forces in operation, but only opposes unguided natural forces.

    Nevermind the fact that restrictiong scientific inquiry to the realm of natural causes and contigencies is not scientific.

    “The material would also have to be consistent with any description of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.

    Translation: “Don’t bother thinking about it: we, the atheists in the NAS, will do the thinking for you”.

    ““Otherwise it should be taught in a history of religion class or social studies or philosophy. But it’s not a science and shouldn’t be taught as a science.”

    Translation: “You can teach such stuff in social studies or philosophy, but only until we find out about it”.

    “She said the bill was inspired by recent assaults on science in the nation and state”.

    Translation: “She said that she was distressed that so many evidence against materialistic evolutionism was been spread around while Darwinists were still trying to refute Michael Denton’s book “Evolution: a Theory in Crisis”.

    Stay tunned while Darwinists round up all their arsenal in order to prevent any type of scientifical debate about Evolutionism.

    PS: Was Judge Jones consulted before this bill was proposed?

  19. 19
    Mats says:

    “Kansas, Attie said, has been the object of derision since the state’s Board of Education in 2005 adopted teaching standards that support intelligent design”.

    Another Darwinian lie:

    “The only problem is that intelligent design isn’t being taught in Kansas (or anywhere else for that matter” – http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ds_to.html

  20. 20
    DaveScot says:

    Good points, Mat. I think what also needs to be pointed out is that today’s “supernatural” often becomes tomorrow’s “natural”. If God exists then this entity is a part of nature and there’s no reason, in principle, why scientific inquiry should be denied empirical knowledge of it.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -Arthur C. Clarke

    Just because it looks supernatural doesn’t mean it IS supernatural.

  21. 21
    Joseph says:

    A couple points:

    First:

    118.018 Science instruction. The school board shall ensure that any material presented as science within the school curriculum complies with all of the following:

    (1) The material is testable as a scientific hypothesis and describes only natural processes.

    Both intelligence and design are natural processes. However it is obvious that nature could NOT have originated via natural processes because natural processes ONLY exist in nature! Does that mean the bill will implode?

    (2) The material is consistent with any description or definition of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.

    Can the current theory of evolution also meet the same standard?

    The bottom line is either science cares about the reality to our existence or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t it is useless. If it does the design inference is definitely a valid option given the data we do have. Therefore to exclude it a priori is the un-scientific position.

    Now onto this from chaosengineer:

    I’d say that Young Earth Creationism makes the following claims:

    1. The Earth is about 6,000 years old. About 4,000 years ago the whole world was flooded up to the peaks of the tallest mountains, and almost all land animals were destroyed.

    Actually YECs give it up to 12,000 years old (the Earth), and the highest “peaks” at the time of the “Flood” would only have been small rolling hills. There is enough water available now to flood the entire Earth to some 900 meters if the planet were smooth (ie no mountains and no basins).

  22. 22
    Jack Krebs says:

    Salvador Cordova is entirely wrong when he says I refused to answer his questions. See http://www.kcfs.org/cgi-bin/ul.....3;t=001303 for the thread in which I responded to him. In particular, I wrote, “Sal’s poll highlights a perpetual problem: some people’s religious beliefs include belief in statements which are scientifically investigateable, and thus run the risk of being determined to be wrong. (I say this with due undertsanding of the limited and tentative nature of science, but also with a great deal of respect for the core solidity of established science.)

    After quoting a post from Salvador at Telic Thoughts (http://telicthoughts.com/?p=525), I wrote.

    1. Note the totally unrealistic claim that if something (in this case, common descent) can’t absolutely be established, then other views should be mentioned to kids in school. This is wrong both about what we can expect from science and what we ought to teach in school (given our definitely finite amount of classroom time.)

    2. Note the emphasis on destroying religious belief. If one holds beliefs about how “God acts in the world” and in fact about how God has acted in the world (special creation, creation of the world in 6 days, global flood, etc.) that are open to scientific investigation, then I say again, one runs the risk of being shown to be wrong.

    This is a problem for the individual believer, but it is not and should not be a problem for either science or the public education system. I don’t say this either flippantly: it is part of everyone’s spiritual life to assess one’s spiritual beliefs in light of what is known scientifically about the world (a core of cross-cultural knowledge) as well as in light of one’s knowledge of other people’s spiritual beliefs. If there are conflicts with either, it is not incumbent on others to change – it is up to oneself to decide whether to change one’s beliefs or live with the conflict.

    If someone believes in Biblical creation, they are going to be at odds with the world’s scientific viewpoint for the rest of their life. Parents of young children need to find a way to explain things to their children, as best they can, so those children will be prepared for the discrepancies they will find out in the world.”

    The conversation continued you from there. I did not duck, nor have any reason to duck, Sal’s questions. The issue he raised is an important issue, and deserves discussion. I may not have answered Sal’s questions the way he wanted them answered, or even within the framework of his question as he worded it, but I was quite happy to answer.

  23. 23
    Joseph says:

    Jack Krebs:
    1. Note the totally unrealistic claim that if something (in this case, common descent) can’t absolutely be established, then other views should be mentioned to kids in school. This is wrong both about what we can expect from science and what we ought to teach in school (given our definitely finite amount of classroom time.)

    That is exactly what we should expect from objective science- present the data/ evidence along with the options for it. Then openly discuss the data in light of the options.

    What we shouldn’t be “teaching” in science is dogma, which is what is taking place now.

    One thing is for sure- this parent is going to raise heck if they are teaching the same pap in biology class when my kids get to that level of education. Maureen O’hare(sp?) has nothing on me…

  24. 24
    Red Reader says:

    Dave,

    You have my email address.

    Please tell Dr. Dembski that I will match saxe17 with another $100.
    I will also donate $100 to the Alliance Defense Fund in any case.

    Let’s step up to the plate guys!

  25. 25
    Red Reader says:

    From the article:
    “We can be the un-Kansas,” Attie said in an interview…. “To position us in exactly the opposite direction and be the first in the nation to do it, I’m thrilled about,” Attie added.

    Red/Blue Mitosis on a National scale?

  26. 26
    John Davison says:

    While it is true that evolution took place over millions of years, it never took place slowly. The formation of every taxonomic level from the species to the Genus to the Family to the Order to the Class to the Phylum to the Kingdom was an instantaneous event without intermediate or transitional states just exactly as every other genetic transformation has always been and always will be. The history of evolution is the history of saltational leaps, the history of unbridgable gaps.

    “We might as well stop lookimg for the missing links as they never existed.”
    Otto Schindewolf

    “The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.”
    ibid

    Furthermore the feathers of Archaeopteryx are indistinguishable from those of a modern pigeon. The are a lot more than a progressively frayed scale. That is just one more Darwimpian fantasy. They have a million of them.

    You want to see the height of Darwimpian idiocy? Here it is in his own words.

    “Intelligence was an evolutionary accident.”
    Stephen Jay Gould

    “Evolution is like a drunk reeling back and forth between the gutter and the bar room door.”
    ibid

    How do all you cowardly, illiterate, unpublished Darwimpian mystics over at Esley Welsberry’s inner sanctum, “After The Bar Closes,” like all them delightful little finger sandwiches with all them cute little plastic red swords stuck into them? Aren’t they just precious? I hope they give you all the cramps.

  27. 27

    […] Wisconsin does a Dover in Reverse – William Dembski offers $1000 to entice a public school science teacher to teach Intelligent Design in biology classes. […]

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