Teaching Intelligent Design Found Unconstitutional

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

Judge John Jones

The courts and the legal process have come to the right conclusion, and the quote above shows that Judge Jones gets it.  Although evolution doesn’t have an answer to every question right now, it is by far the best explanation for the origin of the species and the origin of life, and it’s the only current explanation that derives from scientific instead of religious principles.

I doubt the battle is over; I fully expect the Discovery Institute and its allies to appeal this decision and continue to try to push Intelligent Design into public science curricula in other states and other school districts.  However, a conservative Republican judge has found that ID “is not (science), and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”.  Perhaps science education in America is safe for another day.

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About Lance Finney

Father of two boys, Java developer, Ethical Humanist, and world traveler (when I can sneak it in). Contributor to Grounded Parents.
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7 Responses to Teaching Intelligent Design Found Unconstitutional

  1. Dan Lewis says:

    I agree that religion does not belong in the classroom. However, I have a real problem with the treatment of the theory of evolution as an explanation for the origins of life. The abiogenesis hypothesis (not a theory, a hypothesis) is highly unlikely in my mind and isn’t supported by experimental evidence. So I am in support of a statement in textbooks about abiogenesis that basically says we have no idea how life started.

  2. Lance Finney says:

    You’re right that the mechanism behind aiogenesis hasn’t been figured out. However, it’s not fair to say that “we have no idea how life started.” We have plenty of ideas, but we don’t have proof that they are correct.

    Further, I hope you are not suggesting the lack of proof for abiogenesis be a reason to cast doubt on Evolution. Strictly speaking, they are separate concepts, so a weakness in one does not reflect on the other (abiogenesis is about how life started; Evolution is about how life changed after starting). Unfortunately, there are many in the ID movement who inflate any uncertainty in our understanding of biology/paleontology/life into a falst claim that Evolution shouldn’t be taught.

  3. Andy says:

    Hey Lawn Boy…..

    The “Theory of Gravity being “shoved down people’s throats?”” is a law.

  4. Lance Finney says:

    Andy,

    I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean that the Theory of Gravity is taught by legal obligation, then there’s no difference with Evolution.

    If, instead, you mean that Gravity is a Law, then you are mistaken. There are both a Law of Gravity and a Theory of Gravity. The Law of Gravity was formulated by Newton and could be stated simply. It worked very well for centuries and is still used for everyday situation. However, it was discovered over time that the Law did not hold true in the very large scale and the very small scale. The Theory of Gravity is the current, evolving explanation for how Gravity works that takes into account phenomena both everyday and quantum.

    Please let me know if I misunderstand you.

  5. Dan Lewis says:

    Clarifications on my earlier comment: reglion should not be taught in the public school science classroom. Obviously it’s OK to teach religion at a religous school or in a religious-topic classroom in public school.

    Also, I understand that Theory of Evolution and Abiogenesis are not the same thing. That is precisely why Theory of Evolution needs to be presented as a theory about how life evolved/evolves. Currently, I believe, it is presented as an explanation of the origins of life in public school. That is what I disagree with.

  6. adam W says:

    Hi, Lance. I got to say that you don’t seem to be the same guy I use to know. Although, I do not completely agree with either camp on this issue I do think Evolution as a plausable explanation as the origin of life even in passing can be disproved and therefore should not be passed as fact or science. You only have to look at the T4 phage cell specificity to know that 1074000 is not remotely mathematical possibility. You can then look at the mechanisms inside a cell(flagella I believe is the common example) and see further that things could not have come to being through chance even at the cellular level. At the very least there is evidence of some orchestration. I am not a physicist, chemist, or biologist, but I am a mathematician and I am certain that 1074000 isn’t possible given the estimated time frames involved in the life of our universe. Any thoughts?

  7. Lance Finney says:

    Hey Adam,

    I’m definitely the same guy as you knew back in high school, but my understanding and opinion of many things has changed. Of course, if someone didn’t change or learn between ages 17 and 30, then I think there’d be a problem.

    Evolution by no means has been disproved. It is the positive accumulation of knowledge and understanding over millions of experiments for hundreds of years in dozens of scientific disciplines. It was developed as a result of evidence, it has grown and updated based on new discoveries, and it has proven incredibly useful in accurately predicting future discoveries (for example, DNA was discovered based on the prediction from evolution that there would be a means of maintaining genetic information).

    You’re right that the evolution of the flagella is often used as an example of how difficult evolution must be. However, Behe’s example falls apart on examination (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html). While we haven’t proven how flagella evolved, there are reasonable proposals for how it happened, and different bacteria use different mechanisms for the same purpose (which supports the idea of multiple evolution rather than the idea of a wastedul designer who duplicates efforts). Flagella are not the problem for evolution that anti-evolutionists would like people to believe.

    I don’t know anything about the T4 phage cell specificity, or where the number 1074000 came from, but even if those numbers are accurate, they don’t disprove evolution or the immense weight of other evidence for it. What they lead to instead is a situation with two possible solutions within the framework of Evolution:

    1) We have the mechanism wrong – there’s a simpler way it happened that we haven’t thought of.
    2) An unlikely thing happened.

    Given billions of years, unlikely things happen all the time. Heck, unlikely things happen every day. For example, there are about 5.36*1028 different hands of bridge (52!/(13!)4). That means the odds of any particular hand of bridge being dealt are 5.36*1028 to 1. If you deal two hands of bridge, you’ve done something that is unlikely to the level of 2.88×1057 against. If you have a large bridge tournament where 2700 hands of bridge are shuffled and dealt, then you’ve created something even less likely than the T4 phange cell specificity number you cite. And yet it happens.

    There’s nothing in science that says the unlikely is impossible. It just says it’s unlikely.

    That’s a huge problem with Intelligent Design. They make that invalid assumption, and it all falls apart from there.

    So, those are two possibilities within the framework of Evolution. What are the results if we analyze using Intelligent Design?

    Nothing. Intelligent Design would mean the end of progress. When faced with a difficult problem, a scientist using Evolution will try to solve it, will create hypotheses and try to prove or disprove them. In contrast, the Intelligent Design proponent would say that there’s nothing to figure out – it’s just such a difficult problem that we can’t solve it, so we have to give up and invoke a nameless higher power.

    Fortunately, scientists prefer to use science instead of the principles behind Intelligent Design. If they hadn’t over the year, we wouldn’t have had any of the scientific progress we have now.

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