Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Well, it seems safe to say that the ID vs. Evolution debate isn't going to go away. As time keeps ticking, the issue seems to be gaining more and more attention in the public square.

So, since neither ID nor evolution seem to be disappearing, what I would like to see take place in the next phase of things is . . . . well . . . both sides working together for a common good.

What I am hoping for is that a committee will form that consists of both prominent ID scholars and prominent evolutionists (and, of course, the necessary legal council from both sides, as well).

And, what I would like to see form from this committee is a charter that details all of the reasonable parameters for teaching science--including both Intelligent Design and Evolution.

There is obviously a ton of stuff that needs to be discussed regarding this notion. But, in short, I will submit that two basic boundaries need to be implemented, one for each side of the debate.

(1) In the charter, evolution needs to finally come clean. All of the stuff that is being conceded behind closed doors by evolutionists needs to be included in the charter, and, what is bunk in evo teaching needs to be addressed as such, what is mere hypothesis needs to be explained as such, and what is actually being observed as taking place in an evolutionary manor put forth as fact. Any of the standard evolutionary hypotheses concerning origins need to be clarified as being merely "one side of the story."

(2) Also, in the charter, strict boundaries need to be set on Intelligent Design theory as taught in science class in order to avoid sliding into a full Paley. Critiques of evolutionary theory by ID are fair game. Probabilities regarding origins and issues of complexity are good to go (as the other side of the story). But, strict guidelines prohibiting creation science evangelism taking place under the guise of ID must be established, and, some sort of legal line drawn that carries a penalty of some kind if crossed (and in all fairness, no proselytizing into secular humanism, either).

I think that this last stipulation would eliminate the evolutionists fear of religious fundamentalists misusing ID (which is a legitimate fear, mind you) and, it should be made crystal clear that religious questions that arise from inferring design in science class are to be deferred to the Philosophy of Science and Religion classroom, without exception.

Furthermore, the charter could/should also address issues of discrimination against ID that take place at the College and University level. All of the discriminatory bologna that takes place against ID friendly scholars at the hands of evolutionists needs to be addressed, the proper stipulations made, and legal boundaries set with consequences put in place for certain violations.

This will open up the door for any closet IDrs to come out in the ranks because they are normally not willing to surface due to the fear of losing their tenures and so forth. Also, students will have more academic freedom with these guidelines in place as blackballing and unfair treatment by the establishment would be met with a penalty.

In sum, I am obviously putting this forth with my hand heavy towards ID. Many stipulations from the evolution camp would need to be included in the charter, of course. But, it should be understandable that my submission has to be leaning towards the needs of ID, as it is the evolutionists that possess most of the land at this time, and the ball of making concession is in their court.

The $68,000 question in all of this is . . . will the evolutionists be willing to go through the pain of giving up their Gaza strip in the name of peace?

only time will tell.

34 Comments:

Blogger Doctor Logic said...

I don't think your proposed committee is going to materialize, and neither should it.

The problem with ID is that it isn't falsifiable.

Let's be generous and declare that neither ID nor Darwinian evolution are theories per se, and that neither needs to be broadly falsifiable. Let's say instead that they are categories of theories. For example, a theory predicting a particular pattern of mutations in modern species due to natural selection and comon descent would fit into the Darwinian evolution category.

The next question is, what theories making predictions fit into the ID category? There are none. Any such theory would have to make a statement about the designer, e.g., what are the properties of the designer, what physical purpose was life designed for, how was the life manufactured, where are factories, and what limitations of the designer forced the designer to do things that way? This is in analogy to modern forensics or anthropology. You can't just point to chipped stones and claim that humans used them as tools. You have to ask where the flint came from, how the flint was shaped, what it was used for and why the early inhabitants didn't use other technologies.

If ID went and created such detailed theories, they would at least have achieved scientific status for their category. They would have to change their name to Alien Design, but they would at least be a science.

Even if they made this move, they would still not merit a seat at the science education table. At least, not until we mandate teaching the "Klingons shot JFK Theory" in history class.

The fatal flaw in ID is that it assumes that if we cannot explain a thing naturalistically, then design must be the default. Science doesn't work that way. You have to have a specific competing theory, not just gaps in your competition's theory.

ID's claims are that specific systems are too complex to have evolved. However, this is a negative claim that can only be falsified by coming up with an actual naturalistic explanation of the system. In other words, all of the scientific data is confirmatory, until a convincing naturalistic model of the data is produced by the Darwinian evolutionists. This isn't a scientific approach. You have to come out and say what you think the data will be. You can't just sit back and post-fit your theories to the data.

Science is a bit like poker. You have to ante, and you have to have some skin in the game. It keeps us all honest. However, the IDists want a free pass. They never put their claims on the line because they never make a falsifiable prediction. Instead, they point to issues that remain as-yet-unexplained from the perspective of Darwinian evolutionary models, and try to count that as evidence for ID. For this, they deserve to be thrown out of the casino.

One other thing - you speak of evolution coming clean. This gives the impression that Darwinian evolution is in scientific crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is accepted by 99+% of biologists as a highly plausible explanation for all evolved life on Earth. You make it sound like hundreds of thousands of scientists, though they be mutual competitors, are all in on one big conspiracy to hide the truth.

I find it tragic that Americans have been so broadly conned by these ID frauds. The evidence for naturalistic Darwinian evolution is as strong as the evidence for the Big Bang. If we can be duped into thinking evolution didn't happen, what else can we duped into believing?

I don't think that all proponents of ID are perpetrating this hoax for political reasons (though some certainly are - we've all heard of the Wedge Document). When I was young, I felt certain that if God really existed, he would have left us proof of his existence. Something like ID would have fit the bill. Though ID isn't much more than a recycled argument from design, it sounds scientific. This whole idea has to be intensely attractive for theists. Imagine. "Scientific proof" that we're designed. It's got to feel tantamount to a proof of God's existence.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Actually, Dr. Logic, with all due respect, I would rather that you sit this one out and let some other people go for it on this thread. Lets just agree to disagree at this point. I am interested to hear what others have to say.

Thanks,
SM

5:43 AM  
Blogger Qualiatative said...

I agree with your boundaries but I don’t think anything like that will get implemented in the near future.

Scientists with an already established worldview with Darwinism at its core will be more than a little reluctant to dispel with their philosophy (or even allow challenges for that matter). However, I am optimistic that coming generations of scientists will be a more "intellectually honest" group and therefore more open to ideas such as ID – especially if Darwinism continues to be disconfirmed by newer evidences. (Modern thought progresses with every funeral, so to speak.)

Once this new breed of scientists realize that all definitions of materialism are either archaic or vacuous, they will be able to explore ideas free of ontic restrictions. It is my hope that once scientific thought is not limited to philosophical materialism the neurosciences will be able to more fully elucidate the root of consciousness. If it can be shown that an ontological extension is needed in order to explain even our own being, I think mainstream thought will also be more open to theories that invoke intelligence as a cause for things such as the Big Bang.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Thanks for the input, q-tative.

Yeah, I know it is kind of pie in the sky to posit the "charter" as of now, but, the ID movement never ceases to amaze me. 3 years ago I was at the "ID and the Future of Science" conference at BIOLA and I was like "Wow, I think these guys are going to pull it off!"

ID was barely on the map at the time, and now it is the topic of the day.

I think, more realistically, that we will see a particualr major University budge and sponsor a robust ID program, or something. That, or Discovery Institute will form a college of science and culture with all of the ID scholars on the teaching faculty.

Anywhoo, I appreciate your response and I am glad to be in the loop with you. I am just starting some research in hopes of doing an major project defending hylomorphism someday, and, I could certainly use some input from someone in the know when it comes to neuro-science.

Thanks again!

Sal

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Logic writes: "The fatal flaw in ID is that it assumes that if we cannot explain a thing naturalistically, then design must be the default. Science doesn't work that way. You have to have a specific competing theory, not just gaps in your competition's theory."

In the interests of full disclosure, while I sympathize with the ID movement, I stand firmly against it being called a science. It manifestly is not science. Why? Because although it does use, quite effectively and soundly, sophisticated science and mathematics to challenge the obvious weaknesses in neo-Darwinism (and, as such, ID should continue to expose the holes in the deeply-floundering OVERALL explanatory matrix of neo-Darwinism) ID then INFERS to something other than what science is able to “see.” In other words, after correctly challenging the “hows” of neo-Darwinism, it steps outside of science to the “whys.” Is there anything wrong with this in principle? No, of course not. But can it continue to call itself science? No.

Science is about seeking the causes behind material entities and physical phenomena. It is, as I’ve noted previously, mediate intellectual knowledge of causes obtained through demonstration. Natural philosophy, on the other hand, infers to more than science can “see” and, if done in well-reasoned and sound arguments, also obtains certain knowledge about reality writ large. Science seeks causes, natural philosophy infers (for example) design. It is, and it must be, biologists and biochemists, who expose the scientific errors in neo-Darwinism. It is natural philosophers who expose the underlying false interpretive matrix (in the case of Dr. “Logic”, metaphysical naturalism) imposed upon scientific observations.

Now, let’s return to Dr. “Logic.” The falsifiability criterion he imposes upon science is a non-starter. NOT because it doesn’t provide, in some cases, good guidance -- it does. BUT because Dr. Logic betrays an ignorance of what developments have transpired since the early part of the 20th century when the viral meme of positivism and the positivistically-animated versions of analytic philosophy reared their illicit heads. Dr. “Logic” possesses a very limited (frankly, amateurish) understanding of philosophical issues, but latches on to those limitations which suit him and, in an extremist manner, applies them throughout in a self-fulfilling prophetic mode. If anyone is in doubt as to his lack of philosophical bona fides, please visit the Dr. “Logic” weblog and peruse the past year’s posts. If one ignores the political and sex-without-bounds rants commonly found there, one is soon struck with the impression that a 1930’s Ayerian version of positivism is promulgated.

Note in the above quote from him, the underlying (and, per my usual hobby horse, completely substantiated) presupposition Dr. “Logic” imposes on any discussion is that explanatory power (writ large) is solely limited to modern empirical science. Modern empirical science, for him, is the epistemological arbiter of all knowledge. Of course, selective inattention permits him to avoid the circular (self-referential) reasoning that modern empirical science cannot explain itself or its methodologies. That notwithstanding, he is logically and philosophically incorrect to content that one cannot expose gaps in another’s theories just because there is no competing explanation. That’s absurd, because science itself would never have progressed if someone was not able to say, “Hey, wait a minute… that theory fails to explain xxxxxxx.” No, the onus is on neo-Darwinians to explain how, among many other things, “chance” (the intersection of two independent lines of causality) can account for anything AS A PHYSICAL MECHANISM. IDers, on the other hand, have to be honest and place all their cards on the table to say, “Yes, indeed, neo-Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain how the variety of life could have evolved through the given mechanisms on earth—that’s shown scientifically,” and stop right there. To go further to infer design is no longer science, just as it is no longer science for a neo-Darwinian to infer metaphysical naturalism.

Dr. “Logic” non-scientific opinion views ID as illegitimate because he limits his view of the world to merely that of modern empirical science -- kind of like looking through the wrong end of a telescope: tunnel-vision to the max. To his limited view, the world other than science and mathematics is preposterous to the degree that he has illicitly elevated science from a method of knowing secondary causes to an all-construing quasi-religious view of the world. Morality is reduced to emotions -- yet he would be the first to protest anyone taking away his right to express incorrect opinions on his web log… and he wouldn’t simply attribute the right to emotions. Again, while all our knowledge is acquired THROUGH the senses (we see a man taking candy from a baby), not all our knowledge is sense knowledge (we also “see” the injustice of the man who steals the candy). This permits us to demonstrate things beyond the simply empirical… or, in the case of Dr. “Logic,” permits him to non-scientifically shut himself off from all other explanations.

Hell is, after all, a place we choose in which to abide.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa! Big error on my part: mea culpa!!

The first sentence of my fifth paragraph should correctly read:

Note in the above quote from him, the underlying (and, per my usual hobby horse, completely UNsubstantiated) presupposition Dr. “Logic” imposes on any discussion is that explanatory power (writ large) is solely limited to modern empirical science.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Qualiatative said...

anonymous,

I agree with most of what you've said. To clarify my views a bit: I believe that ID can be a scientific enterprise but only if it consists of something more than negative arguments against NDT. Intelligent design will be a "meta-science" until the day when we understand what "intelligence" (or sentience) actually means.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Qualitative:

Thanks. A further long-winded explication if you don’t mind…

Just to make sure I’m not understood in my previous post: it’s not inference per say I was going after, but inference by science to an order of being beyond its abilities. Science, of course, does infer causes: we have the famous case of an unseen-Pluto influencing the orbit of Neptune as well as the case of the undetected-neutrino in beta decay, where an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum had to be accounted for. But, at the risk of belaboring the point, science cannot infer design because design is not in the same league as material entities and physical phenomena.

(At some deeper level, metaphysical materialists sense this but are not able to account for it with their self-imposed tool of “only science explains all”… and hence end of willy-nilly denying existence to anything they can’t see. I hope everyone understood I was being sarcastic when I applied “viral meme” to Positivism… I’d love to ask Richard Dawkins whether he or anyone has ever observed with any of the five senses his much-touted and now discredited “theory” of cultural memes… but I’ve digressed.)

To see why design is beyond the realm of science to infer, I offer the simple example of the mechanical clock comprised of gears. A gear in and of itself does not and cannot move: it does not have the capacity to do this because material does not actualize material. So, an infinite number of gears, considered in and of themselves, would still lack motion—in analogy to a billion (or even infinite number of) morons never being able to add up to even one, single genius. Somehow, the motion itself must be accounted for… or nothing is explained. St. Thomas Aquinas argues that it is correct to say that one can proceed to infinity in causes when all of the causes are accidentally of the same order—for example, armadillo begets armadillo. However, one cannot proceed to infinity in an order of per se causes, in other words where the cause is of a different order than the effect. What this means is one cannot licitly explain as extending to infinity any living being in existence today as arising upon both (a) generation of that being by a previous being, and (2) generation of that being as dependent upon biological processes (which consist of beings essentially different from that being), and that in turn these biological processes are dependent upon material entities and physical phenomena in the surrounding environment. (See Summa Theologica I:46:2:7.) Why is this impossible? Because described is an infinite regress through different modes of being (different actualities of reality).

This, by the way, is the hidden gem that mitigates against “emergent properties” arguments employed by materialists. In a typical example, materialists draw the incorrect analogy that the brain is to the mind as a wheel is to its spinning—as if the material wheel itself can give rise to its own motion. Moreover, as just noted, infinite regression to a prior cause for the given emergent property from the material does not work—precisely because it fails metaphysically to account for motion as arising from the material. The crucial error of materialists is the equivocation of all existence as to the mode of their being, i.e., motion is at some level, for materialists, equivalent to the material from which it arises (which is not surprising given their monistic worldview)—rather than the correct metaphysical understanding that motion (change) is the reduction of the potential to the actual. The motion of a spinning wheel is not of the same order or mode of being as the wheel itself: the motion of the wheel is accidental to the wheel’s nature—the accident or category known as quality. Similarly, the human mind is not of the same order of being as the material human brain. To counter with the equivocation is to beg the question.

Have I used the arguments or tools of modern empirical science in what I’ve presented? No. Do I need to? No. Does this make empirical scientists nervous? Yes, but a little humility on both sides would go far. Philosophical arguments must turn to the findings of science to “see” beyond in the never-ending attempt to understand reality as a whole, while science must turn to philosophy to animate its very ability to pursue knowledge of second causes behind material entities and physical phenomena in the first place.

At this point a metaphysical materialist may assert that metaphysics and its categories either do not exist or are irrelevant since they are not directly observed by the modern empirical sciences. But then the onus is on the materialist to support this assertion: (1) either he can accomplish this by means of a sound metaphysical demonstration—but this is closed off to him because he has rejected metaphysics a priori, or (2) he can accomplish this by means of empirical observations and modern science—but this is also closed off to him because of the epistemological limitations of modern empirical science and its methodologies. If the materialist continues to assert his position without demonstrating its soundness, then there is no reason to continue the discussion. But note what is happening: the materialist is reducing his own position to the absurd… which may, in fact, wake up astute materialists to the intellectual depravity of their positions.

To close, I won’t pursue this here and now, but with respect to your comment on understanding what “intelligence” is, ID will never be a science in the sense of modern empirical science. I only suggest you be careful not to fall into the very trap Dr. Logic relentlessly pushes for. Hold fast to the truth that an intelligent being is not fully defined or determined by the modern empirical sciences says it is any more than justice is. Science may one day be able to understand the material basis for the human capacity to reason, but this is not enough to fully explain reasoning (or free will, for that matter). Just because you peer into the guts an operating movie projector to try to “see” and understand what the movie is, doesn’t mean you understand the moral of the story behind the movie projected onto the screen. Yes, this is a crude analogy that limps badly, but nevertheless provides some insight. Here’s another example: science will (partially correctly) tell you that a bird flies because it has wings, while philosophy will tell you a bird has wings because it flies by its very nature.

Cheers

10:44 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

Biologists are not working behind closed doors. There is no hidden cabaal of Darwinian theorists hiding the research, or "missing links." Biologists strive to get their research published - that's their job. We have nothing to come clean about.

Theories that explain the fact of evolution are criticized - intensely - by other scientists. Bunk doesn't stick around long. A popular example of this would be the Gould vs. Dawkins debates. A recent, more specific example is UNC-Ch's Feduccia producing a paper claiming modern birds didn't evolve from therapods. ID wants to emphasize the unanswered questions to promote its program. Biologists work to answer those questions. Scientists are well aware that we can't explain everything. See Lewontin on this point.

Discrimination against ID theorists in the Academy is hardly a substantive claim. If they wish to claim their ideas as scientific, they can work within the limits of science and start doing some experimentation. The Discovery Institute is well-funded, moreso than many working biology labs. They don't get published because they haven't added anything useful to the body of biological science. They're promoting an idea based on a dead-end of scientific questioning.

Their ideas are welcome in philosophy or religion, or cultural studies. Free expression of ideas is alive and well in the Academy. Claiming suppressed minority or martyr status of ID is not a defensible argument.

Dr. Logic nailed the big points. Since you've taken him off the table, I've tried to pick up the scraps.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie:

Your points are fair and well taken. My guess is we share similar worries about what happened in Kansas, although my worries are, admittedly, nuanced and nit-picky over what science is.

However, I wouldn't be so accomodating to Lewontian, who has his own non-scientific baggage to tote about.

Also, I may be mistaken -- and apologies if so, but I sense a fairly high wall you're erecting between philosophy and science (kind of like Gould with his "magisterial" argument). There can be no real wall, except in terms of well-defined mandates and capacities of these intellectual disciplines. At the end of the day, truth is one. As I mentioned earlier, philosophy can only see if it listens to the observations of science, and science can only operate based on certain non-scientific (i.e., philosophical) principles. Together, they make a great team.

Thanks for your comments.

12:38 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

Anon,

I have mixed opinions about Lewontin, though I do lean towards a certain German school of thought, which I assume is the baggage to which you refer. I see no problem in placing science in a socio-historical context and acknowledging the resulting class/ gender/ race biases. From what I see of Lewontin, he does this fair-handedly.

As for Gould's NOMA, I want him to be more correct than he probably was. I do think the wall exists, necessarily, if only as a matter of utility, but he probably overstated it. Maybe it's a "noble lie" of sorts. I do think science is limited. Unless someone has an empirical definition of G/god(s) or a designer in their pocket, science has no meaningful way to phrase a question about her/him/it. That's a big problem with ID. You can't scientifically infer design without describing a designer.

And, there is an important distinction b/t naturalist methods and a naturalist worldview. Science need not - does not - make an a priori assumption that everything can be explained by materialism. Science limits itself to those questions which can be answered as such. Kansas, to their discredit, failed to understand that nuance.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Just a quick thought and then back to my paper that is due soon.

Although I am just entering into my understanding of this aspect I am presenting, I will present it nonetheless, and, do so from a practical point of view in hopes that sharing about my wrestlings might bring something to the table here.

There is a general debate/discussion amongst our tribe of Thomists regarding analytic philosophy. Some in the tribe like it, or, at least some think it has some positive aspects, and some don't like it.

I am leaning towards the side of the tee-pee who are seeing analytic philosophy in a positive light. This is because I can see it at work where ID is concerned and I think it is important.

What those who like analytics in our tribe find positive about it is that it isolates specific issues/problems, then consistantly defines the terms and explains the problem etc.

I think this will come in handy where I am trying to fit ID in my overall system of thought. Basically, ID is isolated, in a sense, from the rest of my philosophical worldview (although I can certainly apply ID to just about everything in my system). I could already see (and was wrestling with) the pinpoint of ID, thinking "so, is ID like one sixth of Paly's argument?"....well in a sense, it is. This is because, I believe, in an analytic sense, ID can be isolated from the full Paley. The design analysis is pinpointed to specific issues like *the complexity of a protien as it fares under mathematical analysis within probability bounds*. Both ID scholars and evolutionary scholars can look at the problem, put it to mathematical scrutiny, and see what is infered by the result of the data. I think this is the gist of what Dembski did with his approach to the problem. Any evolutonary analysis of the problem can hit the same head on the pin. How does the probability of design work in favor of evolution? Regardless of the outcome, my point here is that the analysis can be condected in the same manor from both sides. The philosophical, scientific, and theological implications that may arise on either side can just be that as it may. What happens to directly apply to science...well...applies to science.

[side note, this is the kind of thing that i am alluding to with the original post here. Why not get some scholars from both sides together and agreee on the probability bound, agree on the complexity evident in the protien, go into different rooms, punch in the numbers, see what comes out, and publish the results? No biggie.]

I remember a quote from a Princeton Physics student after a Dembski lecture that went something like..."I see ID as a mathematical theory that directly relates to cosmology and physics and can be applied to biology." (paraph.)

This makes sense to me, even in a broader spectrum. I see ID as an isolated, consistant, philosophical theory that relates to science and theology. Maybe it is a *meta-science* so to speak, but, so is macro-evolutioanry theory as it applies to biology and cosmology etc. i.e. "this system, e.g. the universe, must have evolved, therefore many universes, or, an oscilating universe, or superuniverse, etc." ff. "this biological system must have macro-evolved, therfore this proposed evolutionary pathway is a plausable explination for such and such.."

well, whatever, I am just thinking out loud here (which is always dangerous!!). But, that is what I am wrestling with.

If I were to teach ID in a public school setting, I would isolate it (and can isolate it) from the rest of my worldview.

thanks. SM

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie:

I agree with about 98% of what you say, while the remaining 2% I believe are slight differences in nuance or accent that aren’t worth pursuing. There are two things in particular on which (I believe) we are quite close:

(POINT 1) “… science has no meaningful way to phrase a question about [God]. That's a big problem with ID. You can't scientifically infer design without describing a designer.” Correct. The last sentence, however, contains an interesting nuance that’s worth expanding upon: it’s not only that science cannot describe God as designer, it can’t even (fully, ontologically) describe a human being as a designer.

That may sound like an overstatement, but think about it: of course, if we find a thimble buried deep within desert sands that we can be reasonably sure that has not been disturbed for several thousand years, even such a simple artifact is “known” to have been designed. One can employ the “softer” science of anthropology and archeology to provide explanations for its origin, and surely they will look for human causes rather than environmental causes. They will probably conclude, based on any other evidence that may be obtained, that the cause was human -- or at least another type of rational animal, if one believes in aliens.

These scientists will also probably agree amongst themselves that the thimble was designed… but the rub comes when they present the reasons they believe this. IDT will assert the thimble MUST have been designed because mathematical calculations prove (no doubt correctly) that this artifact’s inherent complexity and vanishingly low probability of having come together from natural forces alone can lead to no other conclusion. And, frankly, I’d agree with them. BUT, I would not agree with them on purely empirical scientific grounds. Why? Because their conclusion is INFERENCE to DESIGN (which is what natural philosophy is about), it is not only INFERENCE to CAUSE (which is what empirical science is about). (Note this hold even if they have a good idea that the designer is human, and hence “describable” as you put it.)

(Important aside: while modern science seeks secondary causes in observed material entities and physical phenomena, it must turn to philosophy to grasp the full ontological import of causality per se. In other words, science studies secondary causes -- not “causality” as such.)

This, I believe, is what is at the bottom of Dembski’s misapplication of the sophisticated mathematical analyses he applies to information theory. He is, indeed, correct in showing (mathematically) that a knowledge barrier of sorts is reached. But then he infers to design (or a designer behind the design), which is simply beyond the power of his mathematics. In Thomistic terms, he employs BEINGS OF REASON to make an unwarranted leap to “proving” (at the very least) the existence of a REAL BEING, but in fact he’s aiming for the entire enchilada: he’s literally trying to use mathematics to prove the existence of that whose essence is existence itself, namely God. (Godel would roll in his grave if given the chance to consider what Dembski is trying to do.) In a similar way, Behe does the same thing with biology. Both have failed and will continue to fail IF they continue to label the WHOLE of their efforts “modern science.” Both have failed and will continue to fail unless they stop for a moment to consider the analogousness of being. They could, however, be more successful if they teamed with critical realist philosophers, and hopefully with orthodox Thomists!

(As an aside, this is also the mistake Craig and Moreland make in their Kalam argument for the existence of God: they fail to prove the existence of God because they limit themselves to a distant shadow of what St. Thomas accomplished by illicitly grafting St. Thomas’s First Way onto what is at base the medieval Islamic “Kalam” argument. They attempt to argue from modern scientific evidence that the world began in time to the existence of God as the explanation for that empirically established beginning.They cannot, for example, reasonably conclude that the future is potentially infinite unless they accept a Deist vision of the creation of the world whereby the world is left to operate on its own as a material-only system. Why? The world remains in existence precisely because God continuously wills it that way and (most important) because the order of God’s being is not the same as that of the world. This error stems from a prior more far-reaching and quite crucial error in which neither Craig nor Moreland have fully ingested a proper understanding of being as modal (i.e., they accept the incorrect notion that being is a genus -- see their philosophy textbook), and as a result there is an underlying equivocation between empirical scientific evidence as one mode of existence, and God. But, I’ve digressed for too long…)

I thank both Dembski and Behe profusely for taking us to a certain point, but unless they then come clean and publicly put on their natural philosophy hats (or team with competent critical realist philosophers), that’s where I part with them. If they try to argue to the existence of a designer (let alone to God) using only mathematics and empirical science, science will (and should) ignore them. Science does NOT prove the existence of a designer (or God). Rather, one uses science as part of one’s natural philosophical toolkit to then properly reason to design and to begin to inquire into the nature of that designer.

What troubles me is why they fear to break out of the science-only limits: as a result, they pose their entire explanatory matrix only in terms of science but argue beyond science (or they redefine science to suit their non-scientific needs)… and we end up with the foolishness of Kansas. Why modern science is being redefined to open the door to philosophical and even theological categories is beyond me… it’s an intellectual travesty, really. Science will end up suffering, as will philosophy… and ultimately (quite unfortunately) so will peoples’ faith. Modern science and natural philosophy can work wonderfully together as a team, but if science goes beyond its mandate (and thinks its findings can, for example, impose metaphysical matherialism), or if well-intentioned IDers try to usurp philosophical categories into the merely scientific, we will all end up wasting tremendous time and effort cleaning up the ensuing intellectual mess.

(POINT 2) “… there is an important distinction b/t naturalist methods and a naturalist worldview.” Bingo! I have a real pet peeve over the artificial war brewing between two sides of an issue that is, in fact, quite simple. Methodological naturalism does NOT (nor can it by itself) lead to metaphysical naturalism unless one illicitly and non-scientifically imposes it. Neither does faith or a solidly-based critical realist philosophy try to discredit methodological naturalism. Modern empirical science MUST use methodological naturalism to do its job. Why? Because it’s in the job description of modern empirical science! Think about it: not only should science focus only on seeking secondary causes behind observed material entities and physical phenomena, but modern science tries its hardest to avoid human influence on its work as well. Not only do we try very hard as scientists to protect experiments from external, environmental factors, but we also try to stop free-willed humans from tampering or inadvertently influencing experiments in order to isolate the secondary causes of what we try to investigate. What is so wrong with that?

Whew! That’s enough for now…

Cheers, and again thanks.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Thanks for all of the input, Anon.

Although I think we are probably in dissagreement on a lot of things, I am certainly feeling a lot of what you are saying.

What popped into my mind as a read your last thread was a sort of agreement and subsequnt comparison/application to the way evolution is taught in the bublic schools.

What I mean is, in the same fashion that ID puts forth the design inference, and how you say that this is necessarily involved in natural theology, and how this will be problematic to science etc.

Well, isn't this the exact thing that is happening in evolutionary scince textbooks in the schools? It just seems like they (authors of science textbooks that sell evolution) are drawing an inference from adaptation that is evident, and that this necessarily relates to thier "theology" of time and chance, mutations, natural selection, survival of the fittest, from one common ancester etc.

Seems almost like the exact same critique that you apply to ID needs to be applied to evolutionary thory, at least in the sense that it is currently being taught to kids.

Just curious as to your thoughts.

SM

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sal:

You are correct, and it is probably due to my not being complete (or, more likely, clear) in what I wrote. I agree with you that evolutionary theory as expounded in public schools has imposed on it (mostly unconsciously through years of inculcation) an illicit overlay of metaphysical materialism. That is, by the way, why I came out so strongly against Dr. Logic who asserts everything is okay with NDT. Things are, in fact, not okay – neither from the scientific nor from the philosophical perspectives. Here is what I wrote at the end of one of my paragraphs from the first input I provided to this string:

“… the onus is on neo-Darwinians to explain how, among many other things, “chance” (the intersection of two independent lines of causality) can account for anything AS A PHYSICAL MECHANISM. IDers, on the other hand, have to be honest and place all their cards on the table to say, “Yes, indeed, neo-Darwinian mechanisms cannot explain how the variety of life could have evolved through the given mechanisms on earth—that’s shown scientifically,” and stop right there. To go further to infer design is no longer science, just as it is no longer science for a neo-Darwinian to infer metaphysical naturalism.

To connect this with my overall point about Kansas: what happened there is an affront to science (in my opinion) because it opens the door to imposing upon modern empirical science what it cannot and should not be able to do, namely to infer design (as opposed to infer the existence of material entities and physical phenomena). Secondary physical causes are a very different animal (ontologically speaking) from design and the designer behind and design… which leads to: Kansas is also an affront to philosophy -- the very core of being able to claim this is the ability to properly distinguish modes (or orders) of being. If one equivocates, one loses: there is no way one can speak of the difference in the “beingness” between real beings, beings of reason (logical beings), immaterial beings (such as angels), or God himself whose essence IS existence (I AM WHO AM), apart from speaking analogously… and even the latter doesn’t completely get covered by analogous comparisons because of the inherent infiniteness of God…. Hence why (too me) Kansas is ultimately an affront to faith.

Creationists (in the small-minded sense meaning those who think they can use the Bible as a science textbook or validate science against the Bible (contra St. Augustine’s wise admonition)) have ended up hurting so many peoples’ faiths because science has so often proved them wrong. IDers have changed tactics by employing science (correctly) but then using ONLY science to draw inference to design as opposed to seeking cause. They will lose if they try to use science to do what science can’t do in the first place… I pray they come to their senses and employ critical realist philosophers (and openly admit to it) to support their scientific criticisms of NDT. Metaphysical materialists are bigoted and quite arrogant anti-faith codgers trying to impose their worldview upon science. Science is such a wonderful, wonderful tool for acquiring knowledge of the real world… why is it taking so much crap from so many sides?

So, to wrap up, please trust me, I am NO friend of the OVERALL way (meaning the science AND the interpretive matrix) evolution is taught to children. I go after stealthily-clad metaphysical materialism very, very hard. I also go after (as you’ve probably noticed) illicit philosophical overlays in other fields, such as the Copenhagen Interpretation in quantum mechanics, or the reduction of mind to brain in neuroscience.

One parting request: I suggest not terming what metaphysical materialists do as "theology." While it's tempting, at base it's nothing more than a convenient yet incorrect rhetorical device. At best, one can term their world-view "quasi-religious" -- but even then, only analogously. In philosophical terms it's better to call their antecedents "committments."

9:54 AM  
Blogger Doctor Logic said...

anonymous,

Some advice, an answer, and some questions.

I enjoy discussing philosophy, though I'm rarely in agreement with my counterparts. I enjoy it because 1) it's generally a sincere effort to reach a deeper understanding, and 2) I am forced to think more deeply by the process. Inevitably, I am led to criticize the views of others. I am almost always able to do this by isolating my colleague's ideas from his or her person.

Your comments about me above are plainly an attack on my person. Instead of attacking my claims (I welcome such attacks), you chose to interpret my claims as false on the grounds that you regard me as ignorant, amateurish and incapable of reason.

I don't hold to any absolute laws that would prohibit you from engaging in this behavior. However, might I suggest that you would be held in higher esteem if you focused your rhetoric against arguments instead of people.

An answer...

Dr. Logic betrays an ignorance of what developments have transpired since the early part of the 20th century when the viral meme of positivism and the positivistically-animated versions of analytic philosophy reared their illicit heads.

The accusation that logical positivism failed to meet its own standards of meaning is a popular and long-standing myth. LP isn't a "discovery" about meaning, it is a very broad definition.

The reason that LP isn't popular today is that it throws cold water on our philosophical fantasies, and there's no philosophical technology market to weed out the nonsense. The philosophy market is more akin to the world of fashion than it is technology.

So, it's not that I haven't been exposed to critiques of LP, it's that I think those critiques are without merit.

On to the questions...

(1) What do you think are the assumptions underlying science, and what do you think would be the consequences if those assumptions were false?

(2) You speak of categories and "orders" of causality. How do you know that there is more than one order? You are, of course, welcome to create any category you want simply by grouping within it those items you prefer, but why are we to have any confidence in the absoluteness your categorization?

You group intelligence and consciousness (perhaps even life) in a new category, but why not include catalysis, baked beans or crystalline structure in that category, too? Is it because our definitions of life and intelligence are somewhat fuzzier? What is the basis for your metaphysical claim?

(3) You speak of inference to design as being outside of science's ability to seek inference to cause. Can we say nothing empirical about design? Can't we say that a designer has a model of a part of the world, and superimposes on this model a structure (the design) that achieves some desirable purpose in the model? We can certainly say what manufacturing is.

How can we define design if not by its empirical signature?

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. L:

Your personal opinions merit no comments.

12:11 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

Sal, could you unpack your comment about how evolution is taught in public schools? Pardon my anecdotalism, but in my experience at a public college, evolutionary theory is taught with trepidation. The lecture always begins with "you don't have to believe this but you have to know it for the class." Further, it's separated from the rest of the course material, despite that it is the underlying foundation of all of modern biology (right or wrong - peruse the journals - it's all over the place).

This may not be the case elsewhere, but I don't see evolutionary being taught in the manner presented in, say, the Col. Sanders alligator vignette from Adam Sandler's "Waterboy" movie.

I also hope the last two comments here don't mark the end of this discussion . . .

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Hectic said...

The Rovian tactics used by some here lately are an outright embarrassment.
I used to enjoy visiting this site to read some thought provoking discussion and ideas. Even if I didn't always agree with everything being said, it at least opened my eyes to alternative viewpoints.
I realize I had only been a lurker up to this point, not adding anything to the forum myself. Now, I don't think I can see myself participating for fear of being attacked personally in hopes of shaming me into agreeing with someone else's viewpoint, or chasing me off entirely. It seems the attacks are working as intended, even if it is collateral damage.

I suppose the anonymous posts did get me to join the conversation anyway, but certainly not in an enjoyable, stimulating manner as I would have originally hoped.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Jamie,

Yeah, I think in some pockets at the college level there is a broader perspective put forth. I am usually refering to highschool and middle school textbooks in my posts. Although, I looked at my friends Human Biology textbook used at Winthrop...and the first sentence on page one went something like "isn't it amazing how all life forms seem so different, yet they have so many similarities..." and the common ancestry nuance progressed from there and became explicit by page 3 or 4. This immediate selling of evo thory is in just about everything except A-beca textbooks.

Having put some more thought into these matters today. I think what I would like to see is all of that taken out of the books (you know, the moths glued to the trees etc.)and just observable adaptations analyzed, and basic chemestry explained, basic cell functions detailed, etc.

I was also thinking today that it would be cool for IDrs to develop an awesome *philosophy of science* program for public schools. The funny thing is, the evos are saying that this is where ID belongs, but, if they went that route, the evos would soon start complaining about that as well "well, this program violates church and state" and "Alchemy and astrology need equal treatment in this class" and so on.

sad.

Thanks also Anon for you insight. You are rapidly becoming my latest hero.

SM

7:34 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

But Sal, all life forms do have tremendous similarities. The genetic code - and this not a minor point - is (basically) universal. That is an empirical observation, not a materialist explanation. It's worth mentioning that evolutionary theory developed before that was even known, yet it's exactly what we would expect to see, if common evolutionary descent were true.

I can't personally speak for what is taught in high school, having taken hs biology at a certain private school. I will say - and this is why I'm so passionate about evo theory - that biology as taught in that context was useless and boring, in that they only taught mere observation, functions of cellular organelles, etc. Dobzhansky's "nothing in biology makes sense without evolution" cannot be overstated, and more, it's so not interesting without it. I say this not particularly because of what you just said, but because it's been on my mind an awful lot lately. This is why I, and biologists generally, take this debate so seriously.

I will agree with you (again, I think), that public schools should teach philosophy and history of science. And again, the most vicious critics of ID seem to agree with that approach. Any biology survey should come from that angle.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hectic:

Tolerance of ALL ideas is not a virtue: some ideas are sound while others are foolish, and some even diabolical... with many shades in between. Moreover, some ideas are ridiculous from the very start, for example, in demanding a “proof” for first principles or believing Positivism isn’t self-refuting. Discussing “racism” as if it merited the same “respect” as “justice,” or discussing “positivism” as if it merited the same “respect” as “metaphysics” is to damage, if not obliterate, reasoned discussion. Reducing all moral issues to emotions is itself both a metaphysical position and emotionally-driven.

If one does not permit criticisms of bad ideas, then one should also censor Aristotle who said (in speaking off those deny first principles by demanding they be proved), “they destroy discussion and reasoning in general. Thus there is no arguing with people of this kind.” [Metaphysics, 1063b] Who is ready to call Aristotle “rude” or “intolerant”? Who is ready to term the Nuremberg Trials as “intolerant” or “rude”? Apparently, only those who illicitly elevate “tolerance” to the highest, universal level in order to gain a foot in the door of public discourse for their own, personal advantage. The dictionary word for this approach is “extremism”... or maybe better, “intellectual idolatry,” while the people who practice it are rightfully termed “sophists” by the Ancient Greeks.

The point is sophists and absolute relativists should be stopped dead in their tracks. Relativism is self-refuting. Tolerance is neither a virtue in the proper sense, nor is it to be universally applied. (By the way, the etymology of “tolerance” yields the Latin tolerare which means to temporarily endure that which is bad, i.e., a judgment is already (properly) presupposed.) Sophistry deserves even harsher treatment than a cancerous growth in the body: cancer can kill the body, sophistry kills the mind for it stops reasoning in its tracks -- and we are, after all, rational animals by our very nature.

Yes, of course, everyone should be permitted to speak their minds -- that’s a defensible right. But following that, no one can expect it as a right to receive applause, approval, or lauds for bad ideas: there is no right (nor should there be) to be protected from criticism following the exercise of free speech. If one demands the right to speak in public, one should also be man enough to accept responsibility for what is said and accept even harsh criticism if those ideas are, well, foolish... charity notwithstanding, of course.

My last point is to request equal treatment of all sides: if you are permitted to label those tactics that don’t appeal to you as “Rovian,” then others ought to be permitted to apply terms such as “AlFrankenian” or “MichaelMoorian” or “BillClintonian” or “HowardDeanian” to some of the sophisms presented here. Why? Because it is a waste of time to refute those who are incapable of reasoning in the first place: how does one, for example, argue with a person who denies the very existence of metaphysics by employing metaphysical assertions? I, for one, side with Aristotle: such people have closed themselves off to reason and no one need waste time, effort, and energy on them. They are not in the discussion as truth seekers but as mental masturbators.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon:

This is another "Anon" e-speaking: While I agree with you on most your points and I'd fear to get into an intellectual sparring match with you (you know your stuff), you should reign in your temper: being "right" is not always being "Right." The means by which you portray your message should not overshadow the interesting message you provide. I suspect most of your readers can understand your points -- give them the benefit of the doubt. Practice the charity you just alluded to. God doesn't rape our natures (including our intellects), he perfectizes them. Sounds like a good model to follow.

Dr. Logic: Please, take a breather and think. You've got some catching up to do on philosophical principles. Far from everything in the world is empirically validated. I suspect you know that deep down inside.

Pax

6:58 AM  
Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Pax,

It's not a question of my "catching up" on philosophical principles. I reject bogus philosophical principles. The great metaphysicians of history have been tripping on their own linguistic confusions.

I invite reasoned criticism of my claims, but to counter that my views violate commonly-held metaphysical beliefs does not constitute a refutation. Besides, if my views are so obviously wrong, it should be simple to provide a short, logical argument that shows how they are wrong.

Metaphysics sees reality and empirical nature as independent attributes. Metaphysics says it is possible to have a thing that is as real as you or me, but which has no empirical signature. However, metaphysicians are not justified in making this claim because it exceeds the bounds of language. The verb "to exist" is bound to empirical signatures. It literally means "to have actual empirical attributes." Something without empirical attributes cannot have actual empirical attributes.

Thus, if the metaphysician wants to define "to exist" as meaning something else, he can go ahead, but there had better be a definite recipe for determining whether an object "exists" or not. If metaphysicians don't have an arbitrarily-precise recipe like this, then they don't understand the words they're using. In case you hadn't noticed, they don't have a recipe, which is why they have debated the existence of mutually-exclusive undetectable "realities" for centuries without making any real progress.

By the way, everything in the world is empirically validated. Mathematics is an empirical study of logical symbol manipulation. Logic is empirical because we empirically know the meaning of consistency. A priori, we may not understand what thinking is, but it is as empirical as anything else. (And, a posteriori, thinking appears to be wholly empirical, too.) Love, justice, freedom? Empirical.

So, there's nothing metaphysical about my assumptions. I don't presume to state what lies beneath the empirical veneer of reality because that would make no sense.

7:32 PM  
Blogger davis said...

To everyone this may concern,

As the administrator of this blog, I have never deleted a comment other than comments from spammers. Since I have installed safeguards, I don't have to worry about spammers anymore.

I do have a few requests though,

1. Please refrain from ad hominem attacks. I realize that sometimes they can be useful (rarely), but I would prefer this blog remain civil in all discussions/debates. This is a philosophy blog and insults in the comments section of a post can quickly derail the original intent of the author, and turn what could potentially be a stimulating (albeit intense) discussion into a drama-fest. I don't like drama, and that's why I refused to date cheerleaders in high school ;)
2. Please refrain from using excessively crude language. Fortunately this hasn't been an issue yet. Using strings of expletives really does hinder the intellectual credibility of a poster though.

I have never had to enforce those guidelines, and hopefully I never will. Nevertheless, some of the recent comments on some posts here have been unnecessarily hostile and abrasive. That has to stop.

-Davis the admin
(I have root privileges!)

5:46 AM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Jamie,

Yeah, thats fine. Perhaps you would have to see the textbook to see my point. From page one "many things are differnt yet simalr" to page 3 "and here we have Lucy..." same old song.

Anyways, I have some other trains of thought to throw at you.

You seem to agree that there is unity and diversity in the world. This great unity in diversity is what great leaders throught history have strived to emulate in their established societies. Even the educational system we have in the US finds its highest point in the Uni-versity, where diverse students are encouraged to study diverse topics under one unified banner.

It seems only logical to find the origin of this greatness...the notion of unity in diversity in the Christian God.

The God of the Bible who has unity in diversity in the form of a Trinity, who has been as such for all eternity.

Just some food for thought.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Hey, who killed the thread??!!?

Was it Davis being a blog cop, or, me bringing up the Trinity?! (or, both!?!?)

Please come back and chat!

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal:

I think it was more a function of the compassion we all felt for the turkey screaming in the background at his impending doom...

Memo to Anon #2: No, I didn't have in mind Dr. "Logic"... although...

;-)

11:47 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

Okay then. What does ID say of manufacture? It's one thing to claim design, but quite a different thing to explain how designed organisms/ organelles are produced and replicated. That may be an unfairly open question. Evolutionary theory, though, can field it rather well. Ideas, Sal?

(My side here generally wants a peaceful resolution to this conflict as much as yours, for the record).

5:26 PM  
Blogger Ed Darrell said...

Scientists in evolution have already accepted their part of the "charter" you propose, and in modern texts (over the past 20 years at least) what is only hypothesis is well labeled as such (very little of that makes it in the books) and what is known is also labeled. This last part, what is known, is what gets up the hackles of the usual ID-promoter before a state textbook picking agency. They do not want what we know about issues, such as abiogenesis, to be in the books at all, let alone accurately.

If IDists would accept similar rules on their work, it would aid things tremendously.

Discrimination? Dean Kenyon got emeritus status. William Dembski got five years to fool around, and then a tenured appointment at another school. Michael Behe got tenure. There is no significant or evidenced discrimination against ID advocates -- every ID article ever submitted to a science journal has been published, for example.

But repeated polls since the 1970s show that religious folk hammer away especially at public school teachers who are supposed to teach evolution, so that two-thirds of the teachers do not broach the subject at all (no wonder there are about two-thirds of Americans who don't know enough about evolution to say they understand it).

Let's have anti-discrimination language to protect the teaching of science straight up.

Now you're talking!

11:44 PM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

for some reason I think we might be getting somewhere, Mr. Darrell.

My idea is to keep both natuarlistic origin theories and supernatural theories out of the science books, and develop a "philosophy of origin science" class for public schools that would just put out the issues fairly and let the students think it through for themselves.

I am honesty curious as to what you think about that idea.

sal

1:04 PM  
Blogger the Word Tyrant said...

Okay, chiming in as a public-school student (in the NW, if that matters), and as someone whose head is still spinning a bit from all the big words and concepts being bandied about, I'd like to directly address the question of how evolution is taught in public schools, specifically middle and high schools (6th-12th grades).

Now. I don't claim to be an expert, and much of my memories of school are fuzzy, although I'm only 24, but my experience was that evolution was the accepted theory. I apply the label "theory" retroactively, as I simply accepted it as truth when I was in school. Perhaps it just wasn't specified, perhaps my own background led me to ignore the label at the time, I'm not sure. I know it's a hot-button issue now, but it didn't seem like it when I was 12. The point is, whether it was called "theory" or "fact", I (and, I believe, most of my classmates), took it as fact.

Moreover, it was also either implied or stated that evolution was the result of coincidence. There's that fuzzy moment where they talk about the first molecules combining in the primordial ooze and forming something biochemical instead of simply gas, but--at least in my class--they left it open. Nobody really knows what sparked it off: could have been fate, could have been chance, could have been the Flying Spaghetti Monster. All of evolution is simply presented as one long, continuous thread of what Bob Ross calls "happy accidents".

Personally, I always had a nagging thought at the back of my head, that assuming all life and evolution are chance collisions and mutations leaves a lot of room open for failure, and it's really a Miracle we made it this long, isn't it? Likewise, I felt excluding Creationism from Evolution was a fool's argument; there was nothing I could see (from a 12-year old's standpoint) that made the theories mutually exclusive. In short, why couldn't God have created evolution? There's the whole Adam thing, but for someone who doesn't follow a specific religion, and simply accepts a higher power of unspecified form, there's no compelling reason why It wouldn't create evolution, especially if you believe that It's still guiding things--problems like the primordial ooze leave holes for "random chance" in some mutations and developments, which could easily be from the touch of a divine finger (or noodly appendage).

I'm getting off-track a little here, but the short answer I was trying to provide is that yes, evolution is taught unequivocally in high schools as fact, even if it's labelled as a theory. Theory it may be, but it's what spawned the 500-page bio text you lug around for nine months, so the tacit acceptance of it is fairly strong.

This leads, of course, to the follow-up question: why don't we have philosophy or religion classes in public schools? I would have loved to study philosophy, as well as religion. I find them fascinating, and I know very little. But it would be out of place for a public school to teach religion other than a history of all religion, and any such history would be, by necessity (and to avoid the "Church and State" stipulation) glossed-over to the point of being worthless as far as real education or debate. There's a very small amount of philosophical debate if you get into higher-level english classes, but even that is stymied by the inability of the teacher to open up god or religion for discussion for fear of a lawsuit.

Sal: I think your idea of a "philosophy of origin science" class is lovely, and I would have enjoyed taking it, and I think it would do a fair job of skirting the issues raised by demanding that ID be taught in science class. But things like philosophy and religion don't have a place in modern (American) public schools because the debate of them doesn't serve a practical purpose in high school's widely accepted goal (preparing for college, finding a job, becoming an adult, etc). It would be great if we taught people to think as well as learn, and our model could use some revamping if we hope to provide our nation's future generations with any stimulation beyond being physically able to read, but for the moment, it's beyond the scope of what the schools do. If you want to debate philosophy or study something other then "the three R's", it's accepted that you need to wait until college (or start a blog).

2:30 AM  
Blogger Sal Monella said...

Good points friend. Only thing is, philosophy and religion are being taught in the public schools. The philosophy of materialism (and secular humanism) and the religion of the evolutionary creation story. Why discriminate against all other religions and just support one?

7:08 PM  
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