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Thoughts on Washington Post’s Jay Mathews’ endorsement of “teaching the ID controversy”

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At Evolution News & Views (January 12, 2012), David Klinghoffer noted yesterday that a “Washington Post Columnist Endorses Teaching the Evolution Controversy.” In “Santorum’s good but hated education idea” (01/12/2012), Jay Mathews wasn’t kidding; he offers,

I think Darwin was right, but boring.

[Mathews has kindly written us to say that he plans a followup column next week. Stay tuned. – UD News]

Well, Jay, many of Darwin’s modern day defenders sure fixed that. Their ideas are too stupid to be wrong but every TV hair model excitedly fronts the stuff: How natural selection explains why men cheat (or don’t), why some people vote conservative or believe in God, and why it’s normal for women to kill their young children. (Like Andrea Yates was a normal woman, see?)

It was hard for me to become interested in classroom explanations of natural selection when I was a student. Introducing a contrary theory like intelligent design and having students discuss its differences from Darwinism would enliven the class. It would also teach the scientific method. Did Darwin follow the rules of objective scientific inquiry? Does intelligent design?

Okay, the critical question now becomes: Can Mathews, or teachers who agree with him, deal with the fact that Darwin sometimes did not use the scientific method (witness his fudging on the Cambrian explosion of all current phyla of life forms*). Or that ID types often do use the scientific method, to cast doubt on Darwinists who don’t use it.

Do Mathews or the teachers really want to deal with this in front of a class?

Advocates of intelligent design at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute have influenced Santorum. They accept many Darwinist concepts, such as the notion that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor. They see a weakness in Darwinian theory because of the lack of much evidence of natural precursors to the animal body types that emerged in the Cambrian period 500 million years ago. How did we get from random chemicals to creatures with eyes and spines? They say that gap in knowledge leaves open the possibility of intervention by an outside force.

Many scientists and teachers think the intelligent design folks are only pretending to have an allegiance to science. They seemed sincere to me. Some have doctorates in science. Even if they are fakes, their reliance on the fossil record rather the first book of the Bible qualifies them for a science class debate.

Good points re Discovery. Another way of looking at it, Jay: Take Discovery out of the picture. You still have the Cambrian explosion and a bunch of doctrinaire hacks and lobbyists trying to explain it all away. What was achieved that you care about?

Some of us would recommend letting creative teachers and good students take the lead in these areas. We are unenthusiastic about court judgements, laws, curriculum funding formulas, or rubrics that seek to either compel or constrain thought. The post-Darwinian era is too new for that; it will bust any mold right now.

* Endemic among Darwinists today. Any time you hear someone say “the Cambrian explosion was overblown,” or “We have an explanation that removes the anomaly,”or “science will fill in the gaps,” you are hearing basic fudging. The skinny: The Cambrian explosion just wasn’t a part of Darwin’s program, period. Whatever the Cambrian is, it is something else. Darwin knew it. People shouldn’t be taught otherwise.

See also: Yes, science should rethink the definition of life

and

When science writers can’t cope with honesty among scientists …

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8 Replies to “Thoughts on Washington Post’s Jay Mathews’ endorsement of “teaching the ID controversy”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to

    Did Darwin follow the rules of objective scientific inquiry?

    and from the horses mouth,,,

    Anti-Science Irony (Who is really anti-science?) – October 2011
    Excerpt: In response to a letter from Asa Gray, professor of biology at Harvard University, Darwin declared: “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.” Darwin was “anti-Science”.
    When questioned further by Gray, Darwin confirmed Gray’s suspicions: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction.” Darwin had turned against the use of scientific principles in developing his theory of evolution.,,, Just two weeks before the (re)lease of The Origin of Species, Erasmus Darwin, his brother, consoled him in a letter: “In fact, the a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me that if the facts [evidence] won’t fit, why so much the worse for the facts, in my feeling.”
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....nce-irony/

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” –
    Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    Whereas where Darwin did actually use science, (i.e. reasoning from presently acting cause to explain events in the remote past), ID uses the same method to establish the superiority of its case over Darwinism;

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis Of Intelligent Design – video
    http://vimeo.com/32148403

    Furthermore, Darwinism is, in reality, nothing more than a psuedoscience:

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin(ism) can be described as scientific” – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote was as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....27s_theory

    Science and Pseudoscience – Imre Lakatos – exposing Darwinism as a ‘degenerate science program’, as a pseudoscience, using Lakatos’s rigid criteria
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LpGd3smTV1RwmEXC25IAEKMjiypBl5VJq9ssfv4JgeM/edit

    Further notes:

    Brian Cusack’s Latest: Anti Parsimonious, Teleological, Petitio Principii, Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc and Misrepresentations—Other Than That It’s Perfect – October 2011
    Excerpt: ,,,evolutionists craft clever explanations that cast evolution and its natural selection in the active role of a designer. The theory sounds so much more plausible when natural selection responds to a need by creating a new design. ,, Out of one side of their mouth they rail against teleology while from the other they appeal to it over and over.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....nious.html

    Nobel laureate physicist that you sure won’t read on a Darwin pressure group Web site
    Excerpt: Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause! –
    Robert B. Laughlin, A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 168-69)

    Science Owes Nothing To Darwinian Evolution – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028096

    Bernard d’Abrera on Butterfly Mimicry and the Faith of the Evolutionist – October 5, 2011
    Excerpt: For it to happen in a single species once through chance, is mathematically highly improbable. But when it occurs so often, in so many species, and we are expected to apply mathematical probability yet again, then either mathematics is a useless tool, or we are being criminally blind.,,, Evolutionism (with its two eldest daughters, phylogenetics and cladistics) is the only systematic synthesis in the history of the universe that proposes an Effect without a Final Cause. It is a great fraud, and cannot be taken seriously because it outrageously attempts to defend the philosophically indefensible.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51571.html

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    What is the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism? (‘inconsistent identity’ of cause leads to failure of absolute truth claims for materialists) (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yNg4MJgTFw

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....wanted=all

    Can atheists trust their own minds? – William Lane Craig On Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byN38dyZb-k

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Presuppositional Apologetics – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    related notes:

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” J. B. S. Haldane [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

  3. 3
    Petrushka says:

    I’m a contrarian. I’d teach the controversy in a history of science class. I’d like to see high school science taught in a historical context, since many important concepts can be demonstrated with inexpensive equipment.

    Most of the arguments against evolution are more than a hundred years old. It would be useful to see how they were confronted when new.

  4. 4
    Barb says:

    “Boring” is how my 15 year old daughter described learning about evolution in her biology class. “Confusing” was another word she used.

  5. 5
    champignon says:

    Evolution is a fascinating subject in the hands of a good teacher. Your daughter must either have a bad teacher, or else she’s telling her mother what she wants to hear.

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    WE YEC say you don’t have a cambrian explosion either.
    Anyways.

    Aha. This Jay person says Did Darwin follow the rules of objective scientific inquiry?
    I say they don’t want to go there.

    If something is not true then it couldn’t have evidence to fill a eye glasses case .
    Even less then this evidence from the vigour of scientific qualifications for evidence.
    Therefore evolution couldn’t have scientific evidence behind it and since it strives to make its case on evidence THEN this evidence is not from scientific investigation.

    I find it truly is just lines of reasoning from minor real data.
    This is a serious flaw that has been missed by everyone that reaches larges audiences.
    if i may so punchy.

    Let the “scientific ” establishment demonstrate indeed if the top five best points for evolution are from scientific investigation and print it in these big papers.
    I dare them!

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    Unfortunately in order to be a good teacher of the theory of evolution one needs to have excellent evidence from which to teach and the theory of evolution doesn’t have that.

    I’m going to coach my kids on what to ask their teachers when they are being taught the theory of evolution and the teachers are going to look pretty stupid when they can’t answer…

  8. 8
    Joe says:

    No need to teach ID-

    That’s right, I said there is no need to teach intelligent design. All that needs to happen is to stop telling students that our existence is an accident, ie living organisms spontaneously arose from non-living matter, and stop telling them that all genetic changes are errors/ mistakes/ accidents. IOW stop the lying baloney.

    Tell them the truth- tell them we don’t know.

    When pressed provide valid options and tell them that one of the basic questions science asks is “how did it come to be this way?”

    Then you have a discussion using the evidence and data to try to determine which option is the best fit for that. Then you devise ways to test your inference.

    You can even discuss what options are valid and why they are valid. Even discuss why some alleged options are not valid, ie not an option.

    Get down to cause and effect relationships- (get down on it- get down on it)- given this effect can you determine the cause.

    Tell them why not every death is considered a homicide nor every rock considered an artifact.

    IOW stop with the indoctrination and teach science, not materialism.

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