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Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

Education Minister gives qualified support for teaching ID creationism

The Australian Federal Education Minister Dr. Brendan Nelson (a medical doctor) has given qualified support for teaching Intelligent Design Creationism in high schools.
Stories at Sydney Morning Herald and the Age (better article)

This has been blogged at Evolving Thoughts and Larvatus Prodeo.

The main point is that Dr. Brendan Nelson supports the teaching of intelligent design creationism alongside evolutionary theory.

"As far as I'm concerned, students can be taught and should be taught the
basic science in terms of the evolution of man, but if schools also want to present students with intelligent design, I don't have any difficulty with that. It's about choice, reasonable choice."


When even the chief promoters of ID such as Paul Nelson and Michael Behe
admit that ID is not a scientific theory (see the Kitzmiller files warning, BIG pdf), the reasonable choice is to not teach ID in Science class.

However, Dr. Nelson doesn't say where ID should be taught. To be fair to Dr. Nelson, he did make these remarks in questions after a presentation to the Press Club (ironically about Science Week), so his replies may not have precisely reflected what he intended. We will have to wait to see if he clarifies his position, and makes it crystal clear that ID should not be taught in science class.

This is a bit of a PR coup for the ID promoters. His remarks have delighted the Campus Crusade for Christ, which is distributing the ID propaganda DVD, "Unlocking the Mystery of Life". I never expected to have to confront ID creationism in Australia, and one of my aquantainces said that Dr. Nelson was too canny to let the ID people in. But it looks like the ID folks are here now.

So far there has been no offical response from science or teacher organisations, possibly because they don't know, or are carefully crafting a response (or are too busy doing real science)

Comments:
What is the world coming to when non-science gets taught in science lessons? There was me thinking Intelligent Design was confined to the US.

Intelligent Design thankfully gets very little attention in the UK. It might get more if Tony Blair's faith schools plan gets going. However, we do have to deal with Prince Charles publicly endorsing astrology for plants.
 
Same question might be posed for the dogmatic (and therefore radically unscientific) rejection of Intelligent Design (which, once again, is not, per se, Creationism!)
on the ground of the prior stipulation that the universe must, at all costs, be found to be purposeless and
directionless?

What would be wrong with simply teaching evolution in schools, with the very deliberate and intentional
advice to seek the counsel of religious leaders and philosphers with regard to the "why's" to the "what's" which are the only concern of science?
 
Bob, I'm going to fuse two comments into one reply.

"Not quite. Creationism argues for a literal, six day, evolutionless orgin for life; ID simply argues for purpose in it, and can be quite compatible with evolution."

Creationism comes in many forms. I've engaged these folks for over 10 years and I've come across about just every flavour. You describe Young Earth Creationism (YEC), but there is also Old Earth Creationism (including day-agers), Hindu Creationism, Native American Creationism and a variety of others.

I highly recomend Robert Pennock's "Tower of Babel" for an over view of the varying forms of creationism (and Barbara Forrest's book, "Creationism's Trojan Horse").

The ID movement, now consolidated around the Discovery Institute, has hijacked the concept of "intelligent design" for their own, narrow sectarian purposes. And they are creationists.

1) The core arguments used in the ID movement were first trialed in creationists' publications.

2) The foundational text of the ID movement "Of Panda's and People" was originally a creationist book, after a landmark legal defeat of the creationists, all reference to creationism and the Creator were replaced with "intelligent design" (the documentation is in the Kitzmiller trial documents).

3) Key figures in the ID movevenet reject common descent and an old Earth (Philip Johnson sits on the fence and says there is "not enough evidence" for the age of the earth, how much does he want!!! Michael Behe is the only IDre who unreservedly accepts old Earth and common descent)

4) While the ID movement represents to the general public that ID "says nothing about the designer", the key figures of the ID movement all equate the designer with their own, sectarian version of the Christian God (one Quakers would not recognise).

5) The ID movement uses exactly the same methods as YEC's and OEC 's, misunderstanding, misrepresenting and distorting (mostly very old) standard science.

I could go on, books have been written about this, books have (see above), I've contributed a chapter to one (
Why Intelligent Deisgn fails - Rutgers University Press).

The main thing is that ID is not science. Even key ID identities, such as Paul Nelson and Michael Behe, have gone on record saying it is not science. They do no research. They lobby politicans and the public, but do not try and put their ideas before the scientific community.

As ID is not science it must not be taught in science class. And this is what the fight is about.

Certain people, such as that Christian Scientists, believe that prayer is the only effective medicine, despite the scincerity of their beliefs, no one would teach that Christain Science prayer should be taught alongside antibiotic therapy in Medical School unless there was some evidence it actually worked.

This is exactly the case with the ID movement. It's rejection by the scientific community is beacuse it is not science, and has no scientific content, not because of dogma.

The DI can make lots of noise, because it spends lots of money on PR firms. Scientists spend their money on research, not PR firms (or in my case %^$$@@## hinges for the tissue culture incubator, and I just bought a microscope adaptor out of my own pocket beacuse the grant doesn't cover it).

McClintock didn't spend money on PR, she did research, Margulis didn't spend money on PR, she did research, Wegener didn't spend money on PR, he did research. All these people had controversial ideas which were accepeted because they produced EVIDENCE.

When the ID movement ever gets around to producing a testable theory which they can support with evidence, then we can talk about ID being taught in science classes.

People can read about it in private study, or in religious instruction or philosophy class, but until ID has some science content, its stas out of the science class.

If you want to explore this more, see the NSCE Kitzmiller page
.The Panda's thumb
Talk Design
 
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