Skepticism

Why I Support Intelligent Design

I wrote a shorter version of this in the comments on the quickies the other day, but I want to bring it out as a post on its own.

I don’t have a problem with intelligent design.

I believed in something like intelligent design when I was a kid and it allowed me to be both a creationist (believing God created the universe) and to accept science and evolution (God set the ball rolling, set up the rules, and used evolution as a tool). Eventually this led to me dropping the creationist beliefs.

I support ID as a philosophy because…it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.

Literal young earth creationism on the other hand, is part of a mindset that does not leave much of a window for thought at all, and it is a much more insidious philosophy.

I can live with people thinking that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, and even with the idea that he tinkers with it a little bit — as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of public school science classrooms, unless they actually scientifically discover verifiable evidence of God’s tinkering. And so far, ID proponents have not done any real science. They seem to think that PR is adequate, that if they can get enough people on board, then they can skip the hard work of actually doing science.

A lot of bloggers find ID to be nothing more than a deceitful way to disguise creationism and get it into the classroom. While that may be the intention of people like Michael Behe, William Dembski, and other ID evangelists, I don’t think it’s true of the average Christian sitting in the pew. I’ve never found lay Christians to be anything like televangelists or well-known preachers. They are much more honest. If they want creationism to be taught in public schools, they will come out and say so. And it will get thrown out as the blatant constitutional violation that it is, just as it did in Dover when the ID evangelists were outed by the school board members who could not, or would not, hide the fact that their goal was entirely religious in nature.

I support ID. Just not in the science classroom.


This afternoon, I added this update:

 

Even if ID were taught in public schools, the world would not end and America would not turn into a third-world country. All kinds of garbage has been and is still being taught in public schools. Yes, I want to improve education, but I’m really tired of all the fear mongering of the left and skeptics over this stuff. I spent half of my life being afraid of liberals and secularists dragging the world to hell and I most certainly am not going to spend the second half of my life being afraid of conservatives and religionists dragging the world to hell. Let’s get a grip on the actual severity of these problems and stop blowing everything out of proportion.


UPDATE June 21, 2008 After reading and considering the comments to this post, I would like to add the following statement:

I define intelligent design the way I believe most Christians do, as a form of theistic evolution. I in no way promote or condone the ID political movement that is striving to get creationism taught in public schools in the United States, nor do I support the work or goals of the Discovery Institute, Michael Behe, or William Dembski.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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224 Comments

  1. I’m speechless (well, almost.)
    “I support ID as a philosophy because…it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution.”

    Intelligent Design does NOT accept evolution. Design proponents (the new term for creationists) either want ID taught *instead of* evolution, or taught as *an alternative* to evolution.
    No, I’m not afraid of conservatives and religionists dragging the world to hell, because I don’t believe in hell – I’m afraid they’re dragging the U.S. back to the middle ages.

    “I support ID. Just not in the science classroom.”

    That’s the entire reason that ID was created (pardon the pun.) If evolution wasn’t taught in the schools, there would be no reason for the ID movement. The reason ID exists is to replace evolution in the classroom.

    Yes, a lot, if not the majority, of kids ARE going to be taught some form of creationism. But if we don’t fight to keep ID out of the schools, it’s going to be taught in the schools instead of the churches. (It still is, in a lot of places, despite the laws of separation of church and state.)

  2. I think the point is that there is a difference between “intelligent design” as a general philosophy (which allows for the possibility that a deity of some sort set things in motion or nudged things along), and “intelligent design” as a Young Earth Creationist mask (which pretends the theory of evolution completely excludes G-d from the picture). Unfortunately, the latter definition is the vastly predominant one in media publicity.

    I think it’s perfectly possibly to have both religion and science as part of one’s life — my high school biology teacher was a devout Catholic who found great beauty and meaning in nature, but did not let that impede her excellent science instruction. But I also think there’s a great danger to allowing the two to overlap (which ID/YEC attempts). Science in schools doesn’t — or at least shouldn’t — get into the reason for things, it should simply explain the facts.

    Personally, I’m worried enough about my Jewish daughter growing up in a majority Christian school and culture. I have a hard enough time dealing with Christmas parties and questions about why Santa goes to every other kid’s house. I do not need MORE Christianity in the schools, nor do I need her science education to be even more mangled than it already will be in the public school system. Yes, I can fix her education at home, and I will — but shouldn’t that be up to the YEC community to teach lies at home, rather than me having to teach facts at home?

  3. Backing up Erica above. I think the main divide here is in the different possible meanings of ID. ID as the idea of directed/guided evolution is pretty much the least harmful kind of belief, and the sort of minimum you’d expect of any religious person. ID as “evolution ain’t possible an’ it din’t happen nohow” is the scary idea trying to force it’s way into our school system.

  4. And it occurred to me at Skeptics in the Pub last week… I’m Donna’s troll.

    So be it.

    The problem is that ID, as a philosophy, is specifically, as stated by those who support its teaching in science, a lie. Concepts like “irreducible complexity” defy reality as we know it. In addition, remember that little discussion we all just had about science education in america, where we got tangentally weird about Singapore?

    Yeah. So the upshot of that was that there is a CULTURAL problem in the US, where the general public does not understand or value science. Teaching people that evolution REQUIRES an intelligent designer (which is the core statement of Intelligent Design Theory) does not help that at all.

    Guided evolution is a different thing entirely, because to believe that a god DID intervene does not mean that he MUST have intervened. And we could discuss how harmful/not harmful that belief is. But not in the context of discussing ID, because these are not equivalent ideas.

    And they also aren’t equivalent political agendas, so if your original post was meant to be a critique of the skeptical response to a political move, its a little off base.

  5. An interesting perspective, but I have to say I vehemently disagree. ID is scientifically LESS valid than YEC. YEC at least presents a testable hypothesis. If you accept that YEC is true, then there are definite predictions you can make about what the world should look like. For instance YEC claims that the earth is 6000 years old. We can go out and do experiments and make observations to test whether what we find is consistent with a 6000 year old earth. YEC claims that all living things on the earth came into being suddenly as independent acts of creation and have remained essentially unchanged since then. This is also a testable hypothesis. Separate recent independent acts of creation would look very different from evolved organisms. The problem with YEC believers is not that they do not have a testable hypothesis but that their hypothesis has been tested, it failed the test, but they refuse to abandon it.

    ID on the other hand, is not testable, consequently IT IS NOT AND CAN NOT BE SCIENCE. To introduce it into school curricula would only confuse students about the nature of the scientific enterprise, and of course, be teaching a religious doctrine under the guise of secular eductation.

    Yes, I agree that ID as it is put forward by its more knowledgeable proponents (e.g. Michael Behe) is closer to what we know about the origin of biological diversity than YEC. And perhaps it would make it easier to teach the “facts” about biology than YEC. But it would definitely NOT make it easier to teach HOW we know those facts, and IMHO, that is the most important part of teaching science.

  6. Donna – What you’re calling Intelligent Design is instead Theistic Evolution. There are significant differences, and this entire discussion will be a lot more clear if we all maintain the distinction between Intelligent Design vs. Theistic Evolution in subsequent posts.

  7. Fear mongering? I think that is a little extreme. We are talking about teaching lies to children in the classroom here.

    You say that that ID is okay, just not in the classroom. ID’s only purpose is to be taught in the classroom. It was created specifically for this reason.

    You might say that ID has been subverted from this purpose by individuals who chose to believe some of its statements, and that could be true. The idea of stepping stones to disbelief might have some merit, but being a life long disbeliever, I can’t really comment on that. In my mind though the problem is psychological, not logical. People can see the holes, but might not want to immediately question and throw out all of their beliefs.

    Then again maybe we should teach the most out there fundamentalism in schools. I swear, nothing turned me off of religion more than growing up going going to catholic schools.

  8. Donna – What you’re calling Intelligent Design is instead Theistic Evolution.

    Yes.

    You say that that ID is okay, just not in the classroom. ID’s only purpose is to be taught in the classroom. It was created specifically for this reason.

    Again, yes.

    And as for the “fear mongering” charge. . . well. . . When I see an entire generation — a generation which will face more complicated problems than any has ever before encountered — systematically deprived of the skills it needs to cope with those challenges, I think that maybe it’s time to monger some goddamn fear.

  9. I think part of the problem here–and I could be wrong–is that you don’t “Grok” science.

    That is, you don’t get that facts aren’t important. Science is a way of learning, not a set of facts. Something like ID or even Theistic Evolution eschews this way of learning completely in favor of a way in which you uncritically accept Dogma and then attempt to mash it and the world into some sort of alignment.

    That’s not a way of learning, its a way of being a moron.

    And the thing is: the scientific way of learning, and knowing, is helpful not just in biology class, but in every conversation on every issue in the world. You have to have a way to know what you know and to evaluate what is true. And the less personal the decision, the more crucial it is.

    So even outside the classroom, TE has its negatives.

  10. This is true, Seth, but do you really think we stand a chance on that front in the immediate future? Sadly, I feel that, for the moment at least, we must resign ourselves to the fact religion is here and will be here for quite a long time. Given that, I’d rather see guided evolution be the prevailing concept than YEC.

  11. Sorry,but teaching ID alongside actual science? Why not teach astrology alongside astronomy, sacred geometry alongside geometry, and add some numerology into English class? If someone is a child of young earth creationists and they are in a public school (which I doubt there is much of) and taught regular old biology with good old scientific evolution theory…well, unless they are sitting at their desk with their fingers in their ears, they are going to be presented with science. If they are presented with an ID IN SCHOOL, I would argue that the authoritarian position of school itself would lend more credence to them ignoring the real science.

  12. I support ID in the science classroom.

    OK, maybe not ID. Maybe astrology.

    Or homeopathy.

    It doesn’t actually matter what you pick, but I think that doing one might be very valuable.

    I realise that science teachers are already quite overloaded, so perhaps this is impractical, but the idea is this: you spend one lesson, maybe two, going through a popular pseudoscience in a sufficient detail to show why it isn’t scientific.

    High school kids come out of science classes with the idea that science is a bunch of facts, rather than a process by which we discover things. It might do our students some good if they have some practice at rejecting bad hypotheses as well as cramming their heads with discovered facts.

  13. well,yeah,Pseudonym,that would be great! That would actually…yeah, the “teaching” of ID could actually be turned into a demonstration of what the scientific method actually is. I like it. So..ID would be in the curriculum, but pretty much as a demonstration of what science is not. I can get behind that. Heh! Let their non-theories bite them back in the ass.

  14. As previous commenters have said, it is vital to distinguish theistic evolution and intelligent design. If you were referring to theistic evolution (and I think you were), then I’d agree.

    I would define theistic evolution to be any philosophy that accepts both evolution and theism. ID is something entirely different. I would define ID as the movement that advocates skepticism of and an alternative to evolution, especially in the classroom.

    Now, I’m sure the ID movement would like us to all think that evolution + God = ID, but that’s simply not true. Until we add denial of evolution, it’s not ID, it’s just theistic evolution.

  15. What miller said.

    Short version:
    theistic evolution = common descent is ok, evolution is ok, just needs invisible-god-magic somewhere to make me feel so very special.

    ID = “let’s destroy science and replace it by christianity by any means necessary”. Seriously, read the wedge document.

  16. This essay strikes me as “He was shot three times, so sticking a screwdriver in his ear isn’t a big deal.”

    One doesn’t solve the problem of an inadequate educational system by adding one more bit of nonsense to it. The assertion that doing so wouldn’t be a big change strikes me as remarkably sloppy thinking.

  17. I wanted to post last night but I was too angry and posting angry is not a good idea.

    Others have articulated ,why you need to rethink your position, better and nicer than I am capable of.

  18. Please also remember that ID is a backdoor way of teaching Christianity. Is an ID class going to teach the Hindu “Theory” of creation? Let’s not forget that ID’s proponents are devout Christians.

    Other’s have made good points about ID, so I’ll just add that ID is not science. Science is a method of evaluating evidence to learn how the world works. ID practicers think they already know how the world works, and they just manipulate the evidence to fit their worldview.

  19. “ekimbrough said:
    Donna – What you’re calling Intelligent Design is instead Theistic Evolution.”

    I think you’re right. If she had started with that term, I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with the article (although it should still be kept out of the public schools.)

    To Pseudonym: As a teacher, I do that. This past year, I described homeopathy in detail, showing how it was contradictory to the way real medicines work. We also touched on astrology and “luck”, in math and science.

    But I teach in a very conservative area, and every year I get kids using God as an explanation for the way things are. I’d be run out of town on a rail if I started contradicting them, so I just explain that we don’t mix religion and science at school.

    (And Christians think they’re the persecuted ones. Not where I live – I have to remain a closet atheist as long as I’m teaching.)

  20. From what I’ve read, ID and “theistic evolution” aren’t really all that different, that is, ID sounds very similar to what I used to believe and what I mentioned in my post. That said, what I’ve read has just been online and in the newspapers; I haven’t read any books by any ID authors. So I may look into this further, but perhaps not because I am not sure I care enough to invest the time in reading about non-science.

    I know “fear mongering” is a trigger term. But that’s how I feel when I read articles like the ones have been going around talking about Louisiana being “doomed”… it’s exactly the tone that was used by pastors when I went to church about how society was doomed to collapse if liberals remained in power and it’s exactly like what I read today about how “Darwinists” are going to destroy society. So yes, I do think it’s fear mongering to write doom and gloom posts like that. And I find it disturbing that so many atheist and skeptic writers often remind me of fundamentalist preachers. (I used to not understand what people meant when they said “fundamentalist atheist” but it’s starting to dawn on me.)

    When you write posts about society being doomed and how urgent it is that we all take action because, OMG, the sky is falling, sorry but that is fear mongering.

  21. (Sorry for the double post – forgot to include this.)

    Donna, the reason I fight the resolutions proposed by Louisiana (and recently Florida) is, as a teacher, I would be forced to teach things that aren’t true. If people want their kids taught ID, YEC, etc., then put them in a parochial or home school, where the teachers believe the supernatural curriculum they’re using. But as a public school teacher, my rights are infringed on when I have to observe a “moment of silence” or lead the kids in the Pledge of Allegiance. (I just ask if anyone would like to lead the Pledge – if a kid volunteers, they do it. If no one volunteers, we move on without saying it that day. As far as the “moment of silence” goes, I figure we have several of those throughout the day that naturally occur. :)
    When people say they want prayer returned to school, they mean they want teacher-led prayer. And that infringes on my rights as a teacher.
    Kids have always been allowed to pray in school. If a kid bows his head and prays (silently) before a test, that’s his right. If a kid says grace before eating her lunch, that’s her right. But that’s not good enough for the fundamentalists – they want group prayer.
    So yes, I am going to fight erosion of the current laws, and I don’t consider it “fear mongering”.

  22. It is funny how people read whatever they want into my posts and reply to things that I never said. I never said, for example, that I support the LA law or that I think ID (or public prayer) belongs in the public schools, or that I think it is wrong to fight against laws that you think are unjust.

    I am mostly disturbed that the tone of the posts I have been reading on various blogs. The feeling I get from these posts (and this particular one was just a convenient example), is exactly the same feeling I used to get from preachers — pressure to conform and to act with the group because society is going to collapse if the bad guys get into power and we have to stop them.

    I am not going to be pressured by preachers or skeptics and I am not going to let them frighten me into group-action or group-think.

  23. IMO the biggest problem with ID and the laws being proposed, is that they set a precedent of checking with the predominent church on what is ok to teach and what is not. We have already tried society were science is governed by churches. It doesn’t work. These laws are dangerous and unconstitutional and must be removed.

  24. I also came to believe and understand evolution inside of a theistic framework, and have successfully used the idea of theistic evolution to cause young earth creationists to accept that evolution is just one of god’s tools.

    It’s way better than nothing.

  25. On this point I strongly disagree with you for actually, theistic evolution (what Ken Miller believes for instance) and ID are not the same. The first simply says that ‘god’ probably started things off in the very first place and let things develop from there while ID says, if it says anything at all, is that goddidit all the way down. I.e. the irreducibly complex argument of IDiots only makes sense if you assume that god did everything when it came to ‘creating’ all the life on the planet.

    Read the wedge document and you will see that ID is simply the bastard child of creationism, which evolved when creationism lost its fight to be taught in schools in the courts in 1987. ID was simply a means to make it appear as legitimate science when it was simply repackaged creationism in an attempt to sneak it back into the science classroom. The cdesesignproponentists tag many of us now use for IDiots came from the examination of documents during the Dover trial when one particular attempt to replace creationist with ID in the previously creationism book of Pandas and People was done so badly we ended up with a transitional fossil :) helping prove that ID was simply repackaged creationism.

    Theistic evolution al la Ken Miller and the Catholic Church and most main stream xian flavours already covers the needs to be able to accept evolution as not affecting their belief in god as the starter. In the UK for instance, if I ask most believers, they believe in an original creator who started things off, but not the ID creator fiddling with everything.

    Thus allow ID into the science classroom, giving it apparent scientific legitimacy, and you really do start tolling the death knell for science in the US. Don’t believe me, read the wedge document by those paragons of virtue, the Dishonesty Institute to see their ultimate aims.

  26. Taking the Skep out of Skepchick.

    I don’t get it, Donna. You post things like this on a forum dedicated to skepticism, then seem surprised and defensive when people want to argue with you.

    It’s not a matter of being pressured into “group-think,” it’s using your critical thinking to evaluate the data. That’s what science is, and what ID is not.

    What’s next? You support Sylvia Browne because she makes people feel good?

  27. You are not listening Writerdd.

    Stop hiding behind not bowing to group think and respond to your critics.

    Either you can defend your position rationally or you can’t.

    Convince me that I am wrong, don’t tell me that I am trying to force you into group think.

    Show me how ID is not stealth creationism.

    Show me that Id supporters are not ant-science and seek to undermine it.

    Show me that the law proposed in LA is not a problem and will lead to people accepting evolution.

    I would also like to know what you suggest we do?

    I would also like a clarification.

    Are you accusing Phil Plait of sounding like a fundamentalist?

  28. I am listening. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m simply stating my opinion. I am neither surprised nor offended that anyone disagrees with me. What I am offended by is that people say that I am not skeptical because they disagree with my conclusions. Fuck that. I have a right to come to whatever conclusion I see fit after evaluating the evidence and so do you. And I am not going to let anyone try to strong arm or ridicule me into following the crowd because I have unusual or unpopular opinions.

    The differences between ID and theistic evolution are semantic (yes, I did some searching on the internet this morning). These kinds of discrepancies, just like theological nit picking, do not trickle down to the people in the pews.

    I am not accusing Phil of being a fundamentalist, but in that post, he certainly carried the tone of one, as did many other bloggers who posted URGENT messages about how Louisiana is DOOMED. (Their caps, not mine.)

    All I am suggesting is that we don’t blow everything up out of proportion. By all means try to keep religion out of the classroom — both because that’s constitutional in the US, and second because education should not be religious indoctrination. But don’t go around crying and wringing our hands and making it sound like every little thing that religious people want to do is going to cause the destruction of civilized society.

    But I must say, no-one is listening to me or reading what I actually wrote. I did not in any sense say I am not against the LA law or that we should not do what we can to keep the public schools secular. I would appreciate it if everyone would at least respond to what I actually have written.

  29. You know why so many bloggers posted URGENT messages? Because it was an URGENT issue. You’re confusing urgency with paranoia, and cooperation with group-think. Phil, for example, never said the bill would “cause the destruction of civilized society.” He said, rightly, that the bill had national implications for science education, and that the time to act was now.

    Are you just having a visceral reaction to the word “doomed?” That came from a cat macro, you know.

  30. Donna,

    I’m amazed at the wrankle you’ve stirred. I enjoyed your post and agree with almost all of it.

    There is an unfortunate confusion of ID as a strategy of creationists, and ID as practiced by most believers.

    You can call the latter theistic evolution, or teleological evolution, but that’s just nomenclature masturbation, the truth is you’re right, most Christians who believe in theistic evolution would call it ID. If you call something ‘evolution’ it means (to them) atheism, which is why theistic evolution is only used as a term by the pedantic.

    Which is a really important point, because when skeptics rail (rightly) against ID as a wedge-end, Christians hear you ranting against God, not against pseudoscience. And they’ll fight to the end to make sure we aren’t teaching atheism in class.

    So we have the current war over what gets taught in school, in which the non-radicalised elements from both sides would actually agree if they understood what each other actually believed.

    Randy Olsen’s excellent Flock of Dodos movie illustrates the fact that few skeptics and scientists get it when it comes to communicating. I think for the same reason many evangelicals don’t get it. Few people want to spend the time really understanding the other side’s beliefs then they *know* they’re right.

    So keep up the good work Donna – tell it how you see it.

  31. The problem isn’t that you post unpopular opinions. The problem is trhat you don’t support them with anything. That’s a problem when your opinions fly in the face of science — especially on a forum like this one.

    You say you get offended by people claiming you’re not being skeptical. Can you tells us what skeptical processes you used to arrive at this unpopular opinion?

  32. But Donna, what the cdesesign proponentists want is to actually bring about a theocracy, ID in science is just the start. And yes, in some ways ID and theistic evolution are semantic difference as both imply a designer god, the difference being where and how much fiddling god did.

    However, and here I think you are being a bit disingenuous, for what we talk about when we talk about ID in the ‘culture war’ is not a variant of theistic evolution but out and out goddidit all the way down. In itself I have no problem with that as I think both are ludicrous, however, ID as posited by the Dishonesty Institute is not just a semantic difference with theistic evolution, in fact listen to what they say about people like Ken Miller, but a political tool to get creationism by another name into science classes as a first step. The doom and gloom hyperbole comes about from those who have read the wedge document and see ID for what it really is, a political tool to aid in the eventual theocratisation of the US. Not our words, but the IDiots own.

  33. -If one thinks of ID as a philosophical notion, that some intelligent agent triggered the Big Bang or guided evolution, that’s a non-falsifiable philosophical position that I remain agnostic on. I fully support the right of people to believe this,
    or teach it in a philosophy or theology course, because I don’t have a better explanation for why the universe exists instead of nothing.

    -The Discovery Institute’s brand of ID is complete BS pseudo-science. The arguments presented in favor of it are all fallacious, and the propaganda that promotes it is extremely intellectually dishonest (try to read Behe sometime without feeling ill. Go on, I dare you). It is not the philosophy of ID that I object to, but the dishonesty; I see no reason to teach children lies in the guise of science.

    More troublesome still, this form of ID can be used by just about anyone to mean just about anything. I’ve heard Young Earth Creationists use the ID arguments in defense of their views. Others accept evolution and common descent, but use the ID arguments to argue against what they perceive as atheism inherent in the theory of evolution or methodological naturalism. This is another huge problem with ID as science: it’s so vague that it doesn’t actually make any specific statements about the way things work…it only points out how it thinks things COULD NOT work, and allows everyone to fill in the gaps as they see fit.

    THAT, writerdd, is the problem with using ID as a bridge from creationism to science: it neither accepts nor denies evolution, it’s merely a set of arguments designed to defend the idea of a god (without CALLING it a god, of course) in a way that sounds “sciencey” to the average person. Not only is that not science, it’s not HONEST. I have no problem with the philosophical arguments behind ID as long as they’re not falsely presented as science. And, if they are, it has the potential to interfere with a student’s understanding of what science is, and, therefore, their ability to spot pseudo-scientific arguments. On top of that, the movement to pain anti-ID scientists as close-minded intellectual fascists is contributing to the anti-intellectualist tone of modern American culture, and I really think that’s not something to be encouraged.

    Basically, I would share your view of ID if I felt confident that it worked the way you suggest…but it doesn’t. As it’s currently presented by the DI, it can only reinforce a person’s existing religious views.

    However, if you were to substitute “Theistic evolution” for ID in the OP, I would pretty much agree with you. And, yes, some anti-IDers are a bit shrill, but that does not diminish the importance of teaching good science to our kids.

  34. I would be happy to explain my thinking. What, specifically do you want me to explain? Why I don’t care if Christians think that God is behind evolution? Why I think ID and theistic evolution are basically the same thing? Or why I think the doom-and-gloom style is in appropriate? Or something else?

  35. There have always been scientists who have believed in god. The basic idea of ID was a way of answering questions that couold not be answered. This is a choice a person makes. I am not against that idea, however that idea has been corrupted by the church to be used as a weapon against science. I believe this without question because I here it everyday down here in NC. If my original post seemed rude I apologize, but the idea of ID and the reality of what it is today are two different things and what it is today is dangerous.

  36. For myself, I’d be interesting in hearing about how you applied various critical thinking methods to arrive at the conclusion that ID has some merit. I’m not interested in semantics.

    Also, I’m a little curious why you feel that believing (and defending) the findings of science is some kind of group think. I think you’re confusing the scientific method with a cult.

    When everyone says you’re wrogn, it’s not necessarily that they have closed minds. Sometimes you’re just wrong.

  37. I’m really sad that you are all so frightened.

    Yes, now that I’ve identified a problem to be addressed, I am weeping and quivering in a corner, waiting for my skeptic leaders to tell me how to make everything better.

    Seriously, are you putting one over on all of us here?

  38. “I’m really sad that you are all so frightened.”

    That’s nicely empathetic of you, but it does nothing to support your position or refute the position of anyone else.

    I’d be interested in why you apparently consider ID and theistic evolution the same thing, because the main point of my earlier post was that they really aren’t, and I think it’s possible that we’re all sing different definitions of “ID” here.

  39. I am not surprised by the reaction. This is another example of “A free and open exchange of my ideas”. There are a couple of things about human nature that lead here. First, everyone thinks of themselves as intelligent. This is because you are as intelligent as you can understand. Everyone thinks of themselves as rational. So when we say that we should have an open exchange of rational ideas, everyone agrees. When we start to have that exchange any idea that is outside our world view or intelligence must not be rational.
    Though I am a Christian I would not think to defend ID as it is a political stunt not a theory in any sense of the word. However when I ask questions about the issues with evolution I get the same reaction that we see here. I am told that I only question evolution because I am a Creationist idiot blindly following my faith.
    The problem with this is that it is not science. The questions I ask about evolution are scientific in nature. They deal with facts, out comes and limitations I believe exist in the theory. Yes there are limitations in the current understanding of evolution. There are also limitations in our current understanding of light, gravity, motion, etc. This does not mean that the theoretical frameworks are wrong in any way that is important for daily life, it just means that there is always more refinement possible.
    Newtonian physics got us to the Moon. Newtonian physics are also wrong, but not by much. Aspects of evolution are very solid, other aspects less so. What I would like to be able to do is have the conversation to improve my understanding of the theory, but I am precluded from that. I cannot have the conversation because the response I get is not conversational.

    Get off your soapbox and talk to me, so that I might learn. Of course you might learn as well :-)

    Pat O

  40. If Intelligent Design was truly ‘god started evolution and let it proceed,’ and if it actually taught the basic facts about evolution, instead of contradicting it, I would probably agree with you. But it doesn’t and so I don’t. It’s the equivalent of someone wanting to teach an alternative theory of gravity that said “God makes the ground sticky with super glue.” It’s not about making faith and science live in harmony, it’s about teaching a lie.

    Now, if parents want to teach their kids that at home, that’s OK with me. But what is happening in Louisiana does pose an actual threat to science education and we should be scared. It is not sad, it’s important to be scared. Without fear, we don’t get angry and we don’t step up and do what we can to stop it. Without fear, we get apathy. Yes, if ID is taught in the classroom, maybe it’s not the end of the world. But, once that comes in, what comes next? Astrology alongside astronomy? Alchemy instead of Chemistry? I’m less worried about what comes now than I am about what will follow.

    Being a skeptic means accepting the scientific method. This isn’t about arguing with you to be dogmatic, I think it’s about understanding the facts of what is a complex scientific concept and pushing back when someone says something that contradicts known fact.

    I know you don’t claim to be a skeptic but I also know you are a rational person. I think the problem you’re running into is that you’re assuming that ID and evolution can live in harmony. The fact is, they can’t.

  41. pdohara:

    I’m sorry that asking questions about evolution provokes negative reactions. I agree that this is a failing of people who have spent too much time defending evolution: they have spent so much time dealing with people who are biased against evolution that they can not always distinguish an innocent question from a staunch evolution-denier with a chip on their shoulder who asks seemingly innocent questions as a sort of prelude to an angry and misguided assault upon the theory. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

    For the record, great explanations of evolution (and responses to many of the criticisms of evolution) are available at talkorigins.org

  42. Re being frightened, a random sampling (I’ve emphasized the words that symbolize fear to me):

    that idea has been corrupted by the church to be used as a weapon against science

    the reality of what it is today are two different things and what it is today is dangerous

    what the cdesesign proponentists want is to actually bring about a theocracy, ID in science is just the start

    Thus allow ID into the science classroom, giving it apparent scientific legitimacy, and you really do start tolling the death knell for science in the US

    When I see an entire generation — a generation which will face more complicated problems than any has ever before encountered — systematically deprived of the skills it needs to cope with those challenges

    I would be forced to teach things that aren’t true

    But as a public school teacher, my rights are infringed on when I have to observe a “moment of silence” or lead the kids in the Pledge of Allegiance

    The doom and gloom hyperbole comes about from those who have read the wedge document and see ID for what it really is, a political tool to aid in the eventual theocratisation of the US

    The details are different, but otherwise this is exactly like what I was taught in church about Satanic atheists ruining the US.


    I certainly do not think science is group think. I think that the idea that ID can’t be accepted as a philosophy that is OK for religious people to hold as long as it is kept out of the science classroom is group think. I do not think ID is true or valid science, but I don’t think we have to squelch the idea that God might be involved with evolution to save society from doom either. No, I didn’t study a bunch of scientific papers on the subject or interview a bunch of famous scientists. I thought for myself. And I have been thinking about this subject long before the term “intelligent design” was coined.

    I explained why I think ID has some merit — because it DOES lead some Christians to accept the concept of evolution, if not the word evolution itself. How do I know this? From personal experience and from talking to other people who have had the same experience. The average Christian is not anti-science. A few big mouth idiots are and some really extremist fundamentalists are, but most Christians, even evangelicals are just normal people. What is funny is that they are just as afraid of evolution/atheism as most people here seem to be of intelligent design/Christianity. What sago said is exactly on the mark.

    I do believe that ID and evolution can coexist, just not in the science classroom. I think most skeptics are completely unaware of how most Christians think. I try to bridge the communication gap, but apparently — so far — I have been a complete failure in my attempts. But I’m not going to stop working on it because I think we do need to all learn how to get along and understand one another or we’re in for some really bad times in the future.

  43. “I think we do need to all learn how to get along and understand one another or we’re in for some really bad times in the future.”

    You scare mongering fundamentalist, you :)

  44. writerdd:

    I agree that some of the examples you give are a bit over-the-top. But showing fear, or perceiving a serious threat to science (or whatever) is not necessarily an indication of being wrong.

    “I certainly do not think science is group think. I think that the idea that ID can’t be accepted as a philosophy that is OK for religious people to hold as long as it is kept out of the science classroom is group think. I do not think ID is true or valid science, but I don’t think we have to squelch the idea that God might be involved with evolution to save society from doom either.”

    I agree on ALL of these points. My point was only that, just as ID can be used as a “gateway drug” of sorts to lead people to science, it can just as easily give people false confidence in Young Earth Creationist beliefs. As I said before, I think the problem is in the difficulty of distinguishing between ID as a philosophical position equivalent to theistic evolution, and ID as the pseudo-scientific cultural activism as presented by the Discovery Institute, the film Expelled, etc.

  45. Donna,
    As far as I can see, few of the people opposed to the teaching of ID nonscience in schools are actually going any further than that.
    They’re not suggesting that the Discovery Institute should be burned down, with or without its staff of professional dissemblers inside, or that people shouldn’t believe in nonscience, or even that people shouldn’t be allowed to subject their children to private miseducation. They just don’t want dishonest religion-based rubbish taught at the expense of science.

    Possibly it’s the case that a personally-arrived-at soft god-of-the-gaps philosophy ([Deity] created everything at some point, and may have intervened later) is no great barrier to a subsequent science education, and may even be a stepping stone for some to knowledge, in the way that any other “I don’t really know” philosophy could be a stepping stone.
    However, surely one of the greatest problems with ID is that even if/when it doesn’t get into schools, the political environment it creates actively discourages the teaching of evolution, which can be a great backwards leap in science education.
    For someone who was a biology teacher, or who cared about science teaching in general, that would be a big deal.

  46. Wrtiredd: I was the one who wrote

    “what the cdesesign proponentists want is to actually bring about a theocracy, ID in science is just the start

    Thus allow ID into the science classroom, giving it apparent scientific legitimacy, and you really do start tolling the death knell for science in the US”

    However, all I am doing is quoting what the IDiots themselves have said is their goal. Please, read the Wedge document and you will see that all I have done is quote their every own aims. Should we all just ignore their own words supported by their deeds, it hasn’t worked so far.

    ID in the US, at least the version that gets all the press and the political support, is the version posited by the IDiots, not a version implying theistic evolution, hence my accusation of you being disingenuous in an earlier post. I.e. you are talking about an intelligent designer as another name for god starting everything off while we are dealing with ID as a political tool employed by those, who by their own words, want a theocratic US and who are using ID as a stalking horse to try and gain scientific legitimacy, not through the scientific method but through political opportunism. Their teach the controversy tactic being just the latest gambit.

  47. writerdd

    “I do not think ID is true or valid science, but I don’t think we have to squelch the idea that God might be involved with evolution to save society from doom either.”

    Fighting ID has nothing to do with squelching the idea that god might be involved.

    It is squelching the idea that god MUST have been involved.

    That is why theistic evolution is not a threat and ID is.

    Do you think all the things people wrote are not happening?

    That they are just like fundamentalists?

  48. wrtiredd: one final point, here is an example of what goes on now in some science classrooms, even though it is against the constituiton;

    http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/08/06/17/freshwater_upd.html

    Imagine how much worse it would be if many states endorsed this through laws such as the LA one. Ironically, the child affected was xian, just a different kind, or at least with a different understanding of the relationship between xianity and the state to the teacher.

  49. Why shouldn’t I be frightened that teachers are forced to instruct students in religion? Why shouldn’t I be frightened by the possibility of my children being indoctrinated in a religion other than my own? Of course it isn’t the end of the world, but it is a sign to me that I am a second-class citizen.

    Am I frightened by people who embrace theistic evolution in their personal lives? Not one bit. They cheerfully keep their personal lives personal.

  50. Donna, I think this may be a first: I agree with you. Of course, I have a long-standing tradition of holding to unpopular ideas, and this definitely qualifies around here…

    I see a lot of people attempting to force you into their definition of words, which is complete bullshit. You are absolutely 100% correct when you say that “theistic evolution” is understood as “intelligent design” by most of the people who hold to it. This is, in fact, one of the strongest tools the DI has when trying to push it into the public eye – many Christians already believe themselves to understand and accept ID. Pointing to their beliefs and saying “that’s not REALLY ID” is like pointing at Catholics and saying “they’re not REALLY Christians.” It’s a cop-out. To anyone who tries to do that, I say what I have always said: “Who the fuck are you that your definition is any better than anyone else’s?”

    People need to understand this, otherwise they’re living in a fantasy world just as much as any YEC. Most of the Christians you encounter DO believe that evolution happens. Most of them accept the theory as correct and put a little “God helped” in, the same way they accept that the Olympics is a competition where the best athlete wins and put a little “God helped” in when the girl they like wins the gold. You can scream all you like about it, but that’s the world we live in, and if you insist it’s something different, then you’re just wrong.

    DD is not off-base when she relates her experience with ID and her position that it can help believers come to drop their beliefs. Hell, it seems to have worked fairly well for her.

    People demanding that she hold herself to other people’s definitions, especially when said definitions are patently NOT the most common way the words are actually used by people who believe them, is complete and utter bullshit.

    Seriously, listen to yourselves. Can you honestly not understand that comparison to fundangelicals? Yes, I’m one of the people who posted Louisiana is Doomed! on my blog, and yes, I see the threat inherent in that. I used the phrase because Phil did, and I was linking back to his post about it. Yes, we should take action, but I used the word “doomed” entirely as hyperbole, and assumed that others doing so were the same in this. I look around now, and I question that conclusion.

    Take a look around and ask yourselves if you really don’t understand words like “fundamentalist atheist.” Ask yourself if you can’t wrap your brain around the reason why skepticism might be perceived in the negative light it is in the general population.

  51. writerdd, I think you should definately check out Ken Miller’s new book, which is pretty much on this very subject, and of course is written by a theistic evolutionist (and opponent of ID).

  52. Obviously, I’m going to disagree somewhat.

    “I support ID as a philosophy because…it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution.”

    It does nothing of the sort. It gives them a way to continue to deny science.

    “Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not.”

    None of us actually care what these kids get taught by their pastors and parents. That has nothing to do with our aims in this matter. Our issues have always been that science education does not get watered down with nonscience, not changing people’s minds, which, let’s be honest, aren’t our business. Education, yes, changing minds, not so much.

    “Let’s get a grip on the actual severity of these problems and stop blowing everything out of proportion.”

    You endorse two mutually opposing ideas, but accuse us (without basis) of blowing things out of proportion? Tad absurd.

    Is YEC really more insidous than ID? ID is the worst, most dishonest, and least desirable that lot has had to offer since the Fundamentals were penned in 1909 (the true birthdate of the Fundamentalist movement). YEC is at least based on a manner of scholarship. It is a single point of contention, and is a reasonably substantial framework of ideas. ID offers not so much structure as smoke, and that makes it unaddressable by science. Science has at least, long since put to bed the concerns of the YEC. ID offers no mechanism for this, because it is comprised of political committees, not organizations that conduct research.

    “I am mostly disturbed that the tone of the posts I have been reading on various blogs. The feeling I get from these posts (and this particular one was just a convenient example), is exactly the same feeling I used to get from preachers — pressure to conform and to act with the group because society is going to collapse if the bad guys get into power and we have to stop them.”

    If you don’t appreciate their tone, perhaps you should have examined their substance instead. (Feelings are all fine and well, but I’m not as interested in people’s feelings as I am in their ideas.)

    Sago wrote:
    “There is an unfortunate confusion of ID as a strategy of creationists, and ID as practiced by most believers.”

    Yes, it is unfortunate, but there is little confusion over this matter. ID is a political device of creationists who wish to deceive in order to destroy naturalism. It is not theistic evolution, nor is it particularly good theology.

    ID is nothing more than a means to deny reality. If you feel differently, perhaps the problem lies more with your misappropriation of terminology, rather than us, ourselves, who, in spite of our “nomenclatural masturbation,” are at least getting off a clear and consistent message.

    Randy Olsen does many many scientists a disservice when he states they don’t get it. Olsen, like writerdd, appears more concerned more with changing minds than education.

    Changing one’s mind is a very personal, very hands-off event. Education is something very hands-on you do for a civilization.

    writerdd:
    “I just want to live in a world where people can talk to each other instead of arguing with each other or demonizing each other.”

    Don’t we all. But is equivocation the best way to accomplish this? I don’t think so.

  53. I think the disconnect in communication here, is that you seem to think everyone is afraid of what people choose to believe in the privacy of their own home. I couldn’t care less about that.

    The Discovery Institute laid out a very straightforward 20-year plan in “The Wedge” document. They’re behind the timeline they laid out, but the first step in their plan was to get intelligent design theory added as an “alternative theory” in science classes. Not to teach it as somehow compatible with evolutionary theory, but as a completely separate set of findings based on their “new scientific evidence.” Their 20-year goal is to have their theories replace evolution as the dominant understanding of how nature works. The kicker is that they don’t even try to disguise this as a re-thinking of the science. Their real goal is to get rid of science and objectivism as a dominant factor in everyday life. This is just one step on the path.

    What scares people is the idea that they are actually achieving their goals. The idea that people who’s goal is to replace science with theology are finding their way into positions of power and making decisions that affect the lives of many.

  54. Lots of interesting thoughts. I have added Ken Miller’s book to my Amazon cart.

    What the ID “movement” (read: Behe and Demksi and a few others) represents and what average ID-believing Christians represent seem to be two completely different things. I read the “wedge document” some time ago, but it doesn’t seem to represent real people’s ideas any more than Jerry Falwell represented any Christian that I ever met.

  55. To add to my previous thoughts (#15), I think you are making a very common error, if an “error” at all. Your average person does not really distinguish between intelligent design and theistic evolution. And since this is all a matter of definitions, they’re not exactly wrong–you can pick any definition you like. However, I think it is best to distinguish them, so people are not confused into supporting the ID movement. Now, obviously, you don’t support the ID movement. But I still think it best that you clarify that within the evo/creo wars, your position is called theistic evolution. Maybe you dislike labels, but you did use the label of ID.

    If we ignore the ID movement and political agenda for a moment, we may consider the underlying philosophical definition. Now, you are free to have whatever definitions you like, but this is how I would define it: Theistic evolution states that evolution and common descent occurred, but was guided or set up by God. ID states that natural selection could not have done it on its own, so we need direct intervention of a designer. Even under these philosophical definitions, what you say sounds more like theistic evolution, though it might be something in between.

    As for “fear-mongering”, just because something bears similarities to fundamentalism doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You of all people should know that. In any case, I’ve always thought Phil was being a little facetious when he says “DOOMED”. It’s like a running gag, and isn’t it usually accompanied by an lolcat?

  56. So is there any falsifiable evidence that there’s any divine action at work in ID (or theistic evolution, just to avoid that can of worms)?
    If not, then it is not science. Trying to feed it as science to schoolkids is a shameful lie. Call it religion and study it in church, but you aren’t going to raise a new generation of skeptical kids by telling them that magic explains the science they don’t understand.

    I think I’d rather kids were taught YEC. At least that’s a blatant lie that’s easy for any thinking person to see through.

  57. What the ID “movement” (read: Behe and Demksi and a few others) represents and what average ID-believing Christians represent seem to be two completely different things. I read the “wedge document” some time ago, but it doesn’t seem to represent real people’s ideas any more than Jerry Falwell represented any Christian that I ever met.

    I won’t dispute that. But again, the beliefs of everyday citizens are not what concerns me. What does concern me is the precipitate actions of an activist minority, who believe that science is to blame for all the woes of modern society. And while I hope and believe that reason will prevail in the end, I’m not about to let my guard down while they get ready to announce a major coup.

  58. “they are just as afraid of evolution/atheism as most people here seem to be of intelligent design/Christianity. ”

    well, lessee: I can think of a couple of heinous things about Christianity (just a few…) regarding crushing individual freedom, supressing science, torture…

    when’s the last time evolution/atheism killed in the name of evolution/atheism?

    there’s a good reason to be afraid of theocracy. Saudi Arabia seems like a perfectly wonderful place to be a smart woman. And the dark ages in Europe? What a gas! Oh, and Jesus Camp looks just as innocuous as science camp.

  59. From the original post: “I support ID as a philosophy because…it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.”

    …so are you saying that you think that “ID” (whatever the hell that is – how would THAT lesson go? “uh, like, some stuff is really complicated and non-scientists can’t fathom it, and according to them, goddidit” I mean really. What IS ID?) SHOULD be taught in U.S. science classes? I guess I just don’t understand your position.

    And it’s not up to the public schools to attempt to help believers accept something. In a science class, they will be presented with actual science. If they want to ignore it, that’s between them,their parents,and their religious leader/doctrine. And isn’t ID specifically Judeo-Christian – monotheistic? What about everyone else’s creation myths all over the world? I don’t see where Vishnu or Ra or Odin or Quetzacoatl or whomever fits into this.

    See why it doesn’t make any sense to support the teaching of ID in the public classroom? I mean, based on your own experience, it was your own thinking that helped you see through the crap, right?

    Well, you were a Christian. How is ID going to help the Hindus, Slavic Pagans, and Animists kids get from”A” to “B”?

  60. Christians are afraid of, um, basically the same things and they do think many of these things stem from atheism and they do conflate atheism and evolution:

    crushing individual freedom, yes they really think that not having prayer in school, etc., is crushing their individual freedom

    suppressing decency and morality, gays marrying, baby killing (abortion), premarital sex, drug use, divorce, all accepted by society

    torture, Stalin, etc.

    Sounds a lot like your list to me. I actually do think that open discussion and friendship is the way to combat these misunderstandings. I really wish atheists/skeptics and Christians/believers would stop being afraid of each other.

    I’m just saying. I was one of them and I bought into their fears. I want to be one of us (skeptics) now, but I can’t buy into a new set of fears. All I see is a mirror image of the fears I bought into before and I don’t think the fears I’m hearing expressed here are any more rational than my previous fears were.

    I don’t think theocracy is around the corner, although I do think it’s something to watch out for. But Jesus Camp is just another fear mongering movie, from what I’ve heard. I’ve been to Bible camps and I’ve never experience anything like what I’ve heard is in Jesus Camp. Hell, I had fun at Bible camp. I’m sure there are some way out there extremist camps but that’s abnormal.

  61. writerdd:

    “What the ID “movement” (read: Behe and Demksi and a few others) represents and what average ID-believing Christians represent seem to be two completely different things.”

    Very much so. Which is why I believe it’s so unfortunate that the same term is often used to describe both; I am opposed to the tactics and stated goals of the former, and couldn’t care less about the private beliefs of the latter, and this is extremely difficult to communicate clearly if they both go by the same name.

  62. winterdd,

    I’ll work/vote/protest/blog to defend your right to freedom of religion and your right to believe what you wish. But I’m disappointed that you apparently won’t work equally hard to keep religion out of my kids’ schools.

    “Even if ID were taught in public schools, the world would not end and America would not turn into a third-world country.”

    The people who have responded to you are defending the laws of physics, the science of evolution and the US Constitution.

    My question is – why aren’t you?

  63. Personally, I’d assume that the regular believer with a relatively vague “God created things and then sometimes tweaked them” idea wouldn’t generally give their ideas a Specific Name, whether it was ID or Theistic Evolution.

    If the campaign against ID starts and ends with rebuffing its assault on education (which it does generally seem to do), and sensible believers don’t approve of the dishonesty of the ID careerists whenever it’s exposed, I’d have thought that over time, sensible believers would realise that the phrase “Intelligent Design” is irredeemably tarnished, and even if the phrase might once have been something that they’d think could apply to what they think, that’s no longer the case.

    Surely, with the huge heterogeneity within Christianity, a believer must develop some fairly well-exercised talents for categorising the opinions of other Christians (at least the opinions they don’t ignore) as things they basically agree with, and things they don’t, or only partly agree with.

    Except for people with a huge ‘ignore’ pile, the ‘don’t agree’ pile should be substantial, and cConsigning ‘ID’ as proposed by the DI to it shouldn’t be that hard.

  64. The people who have responded to you are defending the laws of physics, the science of evolution and the US Constitution.

    My question is – why aren’t you?

    Yea, you got me. That’s just what I said. I am against science, I hate the US Constitution, and I want ID in public-school classrooms.

    Sigh. I give up.

  65. “I’m just saying. I was one of them and I bought into their fears. I want to be one of us (skeptics) now, but I can’t buy into a new set of fears. All I see is a mirror image of the fears I bought into before and I don’t think the fears I’m hearing expressed here are any more rational than my previous fears were.”

    Sometimes similarities are superficial.

    When you pre-empt terminology, you’re going to have to be careful to clarify–immediately–what you mean. It looks… odd when you borrow language from the opposition in order to make an unrelated point. It suggests you buy the party line–true or not–and causes confusion. Your beef is obviously not with those of us who oppose ID, but those who have coined the term in the first place. (FWIW, you should be complaining to them, not that I expect they’ll listen overmuch.) (It will also increase the chances that you might be quote-mined into an endorsement of a position you despise.)

    And when you get frustrated that you’re not getting your point across, remember that you chose to employ confusing terminology.

    Not teaching science compromises the industry of a nation (in the case of evobio, medicine and the biotech industry is directly affected). It affects everything, from agriculture to transportation. If you doubt this, ask me how many nations that do not teach evolutionary biology even have a biotech industry. The Soviet Union didn’t, and it did everything for the backward state of their biology. (They have over 80 years of catching up to do.)

    Does this still sound like an irrational fear to you?

  66. PH, yes, they are aware of a vastly different mindstate among other groups of Christianity, but how does that impact the current conversation? They all already call themselves by the same name and hold completely differing ideas in many ways. May as well try to tell them the name “Christianity” is irredeemably tarnished. You’re wasting your time on that line of reasoning.

    Once again, I ask: Who the Hell are you to choose which definition another person must use?

    Further, make no mistake here, the true insidiousness of the “ID movement” is their nearly unfailing ability to convince Christians that they are peddling their brand of Christianity. You’d be amazed at how skilled they are at this, and it is the way a such a tiny minority gets their hands on so much financial support.

  67. This whole discussion is symptomatic of an “all or nothing” mind-set I see a lot from atheists.
    And it really bothers me.

    Sure, I think creationists are delusional. The larger question for me is, are they quietly delusional and non-proselytizing, or are they out there thumping bibles loudly.

    Donna is correct that a spoonful of theistic evolution makes the evolutionary sugar go down easier with believers. (ok, you know what I mean.)
    When I teach evolution (at the college level), I get a lot farther when I tell them that God and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

    My current boss attends church every week, and is also one of the leading evolutionary biologists in the country.

    PZ would probably want her fired.
    I think it’s ok, although it makes me a little uncomfortable about what she might do if she discovered I wasn’t’ a believer. I suspect she just wouldn’t care.

  68. What evidence do you have that the majority of Christians are NOT Young earth Creationist Idiots? Non-anecdotal evidence, that is.

    Yes, I have contempt for them, and yes, I am related to a large number of them.

    Regarding the ‘all or nothing’ attitude, when the enemies stated purpose is to eradicate you from existance, an all or nothing strategy is all that you have.

  69. >>”When I teach evolution (at the college level), I get a lot farther when I tell them that God and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
    That would seem to indicate that the creationists aren’t quietly delusional and non-proselytizing.
    At what point do people decide to stop learning if you don’t reassure them?

  70. As a christian who also believes that creationists are full of it, I appreciate writerdd’s point of view.

    I can also sympathize with most of the deep concern about opening any door to creationist perspectives. The nuts out there like Kent Hovind have polluted the waters for people with a more reasonable point of view.

  71. Not just creationistst, but Fundamentalist whackjobs in general.

    Based on their so-called holy book, they are supposed to convert everyone to their dogma.

    The intellectual suicide necessary for me to believe their crap would require that the ‘I’ who exists now be destroyed. Thus, they are a personal threat to me.

    I also, based on history, ancient and the last 150 years or so, am fairly certain that if the Whackos get government cover, they will in fact physically abuse, and even kill, those who do not share their beliefs.

  72. This is a fairly ignorant idea.

    The IDiots’ attempts to force ID into public school curriculi is not their goal – it is just the opening gambit in a much larger plan to completely revamp public education into a totally Christian creature. Repeat: ID in the science classroom is merely an opening move.

    Down the road their plan is to have all these ‘properly’ indoctrinated kids grow up to support the longer range plan to have the entirety of America Christianized -the government, military, all of it.

    Wake up -and don’t think your personal anecdotal account of having moved from creationist beliefs as a child to evolution as an adult is at all likely to occur in any but rare occasions.

  73. Ok:”crushing individual freedom, yes they really think that not having prayer in school, etc., is crushing their individual freedom

    suppressing decency and morality, gays marrying, baby killing (abortion), premarital sex, drug use, divorce, all accepted by society

    torture, Stalin, etc.”

    1. YOU ARE FREE TO PRAY IN SCHOOL CURRENTLY. I am tired of the fact that kids are not FORCED to pray (or at least the lipservice of “silent moment”) being conflated with them not being allowed to pray.

    2. As far as the supressing the decency and morality thing goes: AGAIN: every single one of these examples is twisted. they are things that people are freeto do OR NOT DO. Nobody is proposing that we force non-gay to enter homosexual unions against their wills. Nobody is forcing abortions on happy mothers-to-be, etc…Every single one of the examples you gave are actually freedoms that the people who DON’T HAVE TO TAKE PART IN want to take AWAY fromthose who do. WHY is that so hard to understand? It’s like me crying afoul because I have to live in a world where fat people can wear shorts or Sikhs wear their turbans or black people are allowed to marry whites (oh, wait…).

    3. Stalin? Really? All that killing was 100% only because he didn’t believe in god? Gee, I guess so.

  74. I apologize if I sound mad, but really. I do get really irritated when equal credence is given to ideas about freedom vs. “freedom from anything that is different from what I want to exist in the world”. As if calling for the taking away of basic, equal human rights is as valid a stance as fighting for freedomand liberty. And if anyone startswith “what about NAMBLA’s freedm?” I’m going to puke up all this kimchee I just ate.

  75. I agree with Donna, and I think I understand what she is trying to say. I can only offer my own experience for why I agree with her. I, too, grew up a Christian, in “redneck Alberta”, which has, sadly, many creationists in it. As I grew older, I experienced more and more anxiety in what my own brain was telling me made sense, and what my religious counterparts were telling me was wrong. I was fearful for a great number of years as I grew to university age. I hate that fear was a part of my life. I hate thinking of all the useless arguments I had with creationists who explicitly told me I was going to hell because I took biology at University. I hated having to defend something that was scientifically solid. And I found solace in separating in my head what was clearly “belief” and what was “science”. I looked up to Jane Goodall when I was young because she helped me to understand that one can be spiritual and scientific at the same time. I finally came to accept that evolution happened, and the meaning that I attributed (or didn’t attribute to it) was my own business. I personally believed God had made the rules and was somehow “in” evolution, but I had no argument with it happening as science dictated it did. If I didn’t merge these two ideas somehow, I would never have been at peace pursuing my studies in biology. And boy, am I glad that I did. I am much happier now that I have done away with religion in my life, and I have found other ways to be spiritual. But I do pity those who are still under the reign of dogmatism, and who feel guilt when they think about the possibility of evolution occurring. I don’t want to get into the semantics of “ID” or “theistic evolution”. I don’t really care what people call it – and I shudder when I think that there are many ID folks out there who have the agenda of trying to put it into schools (which Donna never agreed with, and I don’t either). But in my private life, an idea like ID made me more at ease with evolution, and if it helps some other little girl become more at ease (and thus put her on the path of the sceptic) then it doesn’t bother me that the idea exists. I frankly don’t care what people attribute meaning to, as long as they keep science, well, science.

    We cannot wish religion away. I applaud Bug Girl for saying “When I teach evolution (at the college level), I get a lot farther when I tell them that God and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” And whoever said that ID only “…gives them a way to continue to deny science.” I disagree, for obviously my own personal reasons. I think it might depend on where you’re looking at it from. From the sceptic’s point of view, it seems to be going backwards, accepting religion into evolution, but from the creationists’ point of view, it is accepting science into religion. Perhaps some still need that middle ground.

    I’m ashamed now to admit it, but when I was young, those creationists who argued against me and told me I was going to hell made me cry. It made me abhor fundamentalism. But I hate it on all levels – either from the sceptic, or the creationist, it’s harmful. Donna’s comments, I thought, were pretty benign, and they seemed to be simply seeking some understanding of an unpopular idea, but they unleashed a torrent of negative comments, a lot of which seemed personalized attacks and some very sarcastic and disrespectful, when it was really only a differing of opinions. I hope that doesn’t become the norm here.

  76. I don’t want to get into the semantics of “ID” or “theistic evolution.”

    I hate to have to be pedantic, but words and names have specific meanings. ID “theory” is not, and never was, the same concept as theistic evolution. To say that one doesn’t want to “get into the semantics” of the situation, but insists on conflating the two ideas and referring to them as if they were the same thing, is already very much getting into the semantics — and trampling them into the mud.

    You don’t get to decide, like Humpty Dumpty, that words mean exactly what you choose for them to mean; words have objective meanings, and you do not have a choice about what those meanings are. You cannot hope to communicate sensibly with other people if you refuse to use words with the meanings they already have.

    To claim to support ID when you actually mean that you support theistic evolution is like saying that you study astrology when you mean that you study astronomy. The two fields may use some of the same component pieces of material in their expression, but they are not at all the same.

    For the record, I am not attacking theistic evolution or anyone who wishes to believe it. That’s your privilege, and nothing in science has anything to say against it as far as I know. Theism applied in this way is complementary to evolutionary theory, not a competitor to it or a threat to it.

    However, intelligent design “theory” is not the same thing as theistic evolution. ID is nothing but a collection of criticisms of evolutionary theory (mostly fallacious ones or outright lies at that); it is not truly a theory, or even much of a hypothesis, but is more of a poorly expressed and frequently vague opinion.

    ID is not science at all, but a complete short-circuiting of science. It makes almost no falsifiable claims (except for those that have already been shown to be false), makes no confirmable predictions whatsoever (as scientific theories are supposed to do), and basically says that exploring all evolutionary questions is pointless (decades of highly fruitful application of evolutionary theory notwithstanding).

    Even the strongest supporters of ID have shown no inclination to do any real science in connection with it; no experiments or observations have been presented (well, other than a couple of observations that have been thoroughly shot down) that support this bogus “theory,” despite about 12 years of touting it, and for very good reason — there are none. The only substance to ID is religious ideology, and ID is nothing more than creationism in a stolen lab coat.

    So, fine, writerdd and those who agree with her, if you want to support ID, go ahead. But, first, be sure that’s what you are supporting; second, expect to be called on to give your reasons for supporting it; and, third, expect to be trounced in discussion if those reasons don’t hold water. Don’t try to pull a bait-and-switch with theistic evolution, because they are not the same thing, any more than Judaism is Christianity just because Jesus was Jewish.

    Either present support for ID — as it is, not as you want to redefine it — or correct your professed stance and state that you support the concept of theistic evolution. It helps nobody in this discussion, including yourselves, to keep maintaining belief in one thing when your descriptions indicate that you are actually referring to something else. You might as well give a review of Superhero Movie by discussing Spider-Man and assuming that they’re basically the same thing.

    ~Wordplayer

  77. >>”From the sceptic’s point of view, it seems to be going backwards, accepting religion into evolution, but from the creationists’ point of view, it is accepting science into religion. Perhaps some still need that middle ground.”

    A religious viewpoint on biology only seems to count as some sort of real gateway into science if the alternative of the religion not saying anything about human origins and leaving that to biology teaching would be less inspiring.
    Just because the religion or some other religion could have had a worse approach doesn’t make the softer viewpoint better – the valid point of comparison seems to be doing nothing, not doing something arbitrarily negative.

  78. You’re full of shit. I defy you to point to me a single word with an actual objective meaning. Just one. Words mean what the person using them understands them to mean, nothing more, nothing less. The meaning of a word exists only in the completely subjective and arbitrary linguistic agreement we’ve temporarily made with one another, and in fact, we CONSTANTLY modify and adjust these meanings, both individually and as a group.

    Once again – WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU? What makes you so special that your definitions are any more valid than anyone else’s?

  79. “words have objective meanings”

    Rofl.. a million dead linguists roll in their grave.

    Words have only conventional meaning – what the speakers want them to mean. Many have tried to control the meanings of words, all have failed.

    I’d suggest you (re)read 1984.

  80. “A religious viewpoint on biology only seems to count as some sort of real gateway into science if the alternative of the religion not saying anything about human origins and leaving that to biology teaching would be less inspiring.”

    I was interested in the pursuit of the truth of how we all came to be – my religion peskily got in the way. Perhaps I misunderstood you, but if the “truth” about our existence was uninspiring, it didn’t matter to me, I still wanted to know. I didn’t believe, deep down, that religion had all the answers, yet I was too fearful to throw it away entirely, at the time. (Please correct me if I misunderstood your meaning there).

  81. >>”Words have only conventional meaning – what the speakers want them to mean.”

    Even if you count ‘speakers’ as being a large group of speakers and listeners, there’s still a lot of inertia in language, for the obvious reason that arbitrary flexibility makes communication harder.
    It’s also somewhat incumbent on a speaker to be aware of the likely meanings that will be attached to their words by their audience.

    The meanings of words may be ‘temporary’, but in terms of realistic timescales, that ‘temporary’ is often close to ‘practically permanent’.

    When it comes to phrases, especially Capitalised Phrases, it seems maybe even more likely that even rather old meanings will persist, if only attached to now-vanished contexts.
    Hence if I said that my boss’s new idea was a great leap forward, that might not be nearly as insulting as if I said it was a Great Leap Forward.

  82. Rystefn,
    It’d still be a bit nicer, if you’re going to start a post by saying
    “You’re full of shit”
    that you actually stuck someone’s name there, so that we all knew straight away who you’re having your intellectual disagreement with.

  83. Maybe, but I’m not a nice person in general, and even less so in this specific case. One would think beginning a statement with the phrase “you’re full of shit” to be a perfectly cogent forewarning of that.

  84. @PH – yup, I mostly agree, but so? Doesn’t mean that ID has an objective meaning that everyone has to subscribe to, does it?

    I stand by dd’s original – in my experience most evangelical Christians understand something very different by ID and evolution than most skeptics. And the fact that they aren’t willing to find out the other’s understanding is where you get comments like wordplay’s, accusing everybody who doesn’t adhere to his definition of being wrong.

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  85. It is true that words only have conventional meaning. What we need to remember is that words exist to comunicate ideas, and it is what your audience hears that matters. The average person may not make a distinction between ID and theistic evolution, but this blog aimed at a specific group of people, self-identified skeptics, who do make such a distinction. To the skeptic comunity ID means the Discovery Institute and creationism, it may not be what you mean but it is what your readers will understand from your choice of words.

  86. darwinfan,
    I’m just intrigued about the idea of theistic evolution or suchlike being a stepping stone between religion and science.
    One one level, I can see the point of view, but on the other hand, what is it that makes a stepping stone any more necessary for evolution than for the study of electricity?

    Is it some diffuse outfall from Creationism/ID even for people not fully exposed to it?
    Is it some real or distorted portrayal of atheism, or a linkage of it with evolution, and if so, who’s pushing that portrayal?
    Should a college-level educator really have to tell students that there isn’t some fundamental incompatability? Is that down to a lack of that being pointed out earlier, or by earlier attempted education being negated by some kind of miseducation?

  87. Ah, but you see, in this case, she specifically spelled out what she was talking about, and has repeatedly attempted to clarify her meaning, and yet people are still attacking her out of their perceived meaning rather than the one she was clearly using. DD is in the right here, and those that are attacking her over word usage are wrong… well, i suppose they could be dense. never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, right?

  88. A quick internet seach later… The only sites/articles that came up on the first 4 pages (could’nt be bothered going further) all refer to intellegent design as being opposed to evolution. I’m going to go ahead and suggest that common usage does not in fact cover theistic evolution.

  89. That’s very interesting considering how much of this conversation has been about the difference between common usage and high-profile usage… but, more to the point, when someone explicitly spells out what meaning is being attached to a phrase, why is it so hard for people, for the sake of argument, if for no other reason, to let it mean that during the one fucking conversation?

  90. Ok, from now on the United Sates Of America shall be known as China for the remainder of the conversation…… Simple fact is if you say ID on this kind of site then you don’t need psychic powers to see how people will react.

  91. Ok, for the purposes of this conversation, when I say America, I’m talking about the continents, not the United States. how long do you think I could discuss history in this manner without being attacked on that point? how many times would I have to point out what I’m doing? Would someone pop on about Google searches and how page after page seems to be talking about a nation, not a pair of continents?

    Yeah, you’d expect to get reactions like that, but you’d very rightly say that anyone reacting thus is being a fucking idiot. What’s the difference?

  92. …and I think that once I specify, the point is clear, and there’s no need for further discussion about the distinction. Anyone who can’t follow something that simple… well, let’s just say that I don’t care to hear what they have to say on the subject anyway.

  93. If people believe in something different from what Dembski et al. mean by intelligent design, but nevertheless use the same term for it, mightn’t they be suckered into supporting the creationists? The phrase “intelligent design” was invented to disguise creationism, and make it sound scientific. Those defending it here are essentially saying that strategy worked; that a lot of Christians have come to believe it is valid, whether they fully understand what it’s proponents are claiming or not. I think that once they identify as believer in ID, they will support the ID think tanks. The fact that those groups may use ID to mean something else is irrelevant; these good-IDers won’t know they difference between theirs and bad-ID, because if they were researching into the issue, they would understand biology and none of this would be an issue. If people are supporting the ID movement because it’ss they think its soemthing it’s, and are too lazy/apathetic to find out what it really is, the ultimate outcome is the same – creationism in the schools.

  94. Firstly, when one considers what one writes, one should considers what the author means by it. Definitions are different depending on people, and I consider ID as having two definitions. One is that God had an influence in anything, like creation and evolution. Another is what the DiscoTute is spreading, as you guys all know. And what she wrote, is the ID definition in which all of Christians believe, even theistic evolutionists. I don’t know why you guys exploded over it. She never said she supported ID (as in DiscoTute) in the classroom. Also, it is important not to have an all or nothing attitude. No one will agree 100% with another person, and one will never reach a concession that way. Also, it does feel like people are fearmongering, as if civilization will fall after that, though I agree urgency is needed, since LA could expand into national complication.

  95. Because I’m a masochist.

    Josh, you’re right. I’ve said something very similar earlier, except that I wasn’t being hypothetical. Anecdotal, I know, but I’ve seen with my own eyes this precise thing happening.

  96. Rystefn, sago, I’m with ya.

    PH, the stepping stone was necessary, at least for me, because a lot of people I cared about and respected were so vehemently against evolution (and, mind you, used fear of hell to deter me from disagreeing with them). I probably would have found a way to continue in my evolution studying world and my religious world in perfect harmony for quite some time if I was only depending on the Bible, and not others’ interpretation of it, for my religious input. In my world, evolution stood for everything that was in conflict with the Bible. I don’t really know why. These same Christians were willing to admit that it was wrong to stone homosexuals, or wrong to have slaves, etc., and yet they couldn’t accept that maybe they shouldn’t be so literally accepting Genesis. Once something is defined as an enemy to one’s ideology though, it will be fought tooth and nail, and the more it’s fought, the more it must be an enemy. I suppose this has happened again and again in Christianity; they also once thought the sun revolved around the earth, and fought to keep from having to figure out what the truth actually meant for them. But I do honestly believe that the idea of creationism is on the way out – I actually take the increasing backlash and the creation of the ideology of ID as encouraging, I think it’s just a final rally, with fewer and fewer putting more of their back into the fight. I am certain they won’t prevail. Maybe that certainty also makes me more accepting of the idea in the first place.

  97. “DD is in the right here, and those that are attacking her over word usage are wrong… well, i suppose they could be dense. ”

    Please tell me what DD is right about? I thought that this whole conversation had to do with it being OK to “teach” ID in public schools.then it got into a semantic argument on what ID meant…so- what’s the deal?
    a)what explicitly is ID, DD?
    b) why should it be taught in public classrooms?

    …and:”Dude… I think you entirely missed the point.

    “yes THEY really think””

    So? So what if a bunch of people THINK that gays are evil and that we’re all going to hell if we don’t force kids to pray in school? It doesn’t mean that they need to be accommodated by putting gays in prison and having prayer in schools (thank,constitution)

    should we teach holocaust denial as another history (not as a sociological phenomenon) alongside 20th century world history because a couple of kids’ dads are in the KKK? Should the school nurse keep homeopathic medicine in the drawer because some parents are Newage?

    I think that this conversation has reacheda point where some clarity is required. As far asI can tell, WriterDD and Rystefn are fine with teaching ID in public schools because it might help some creationists accept the rudiments of evolution theory?

    Please clarify, because this is the impression that I am under.

    I personally think that teaching (andagain, I don’t know how the heck you even have a lesson on ID, could someone clear that one up, too?) ID would serve only to allow that little meme of “evolution is only a theory” into a whole lotmore heads than the other way around.

  98. Whitebird, I thought it was made clear that ID should absolutely NOT be taught in schools. I don’t believe I’ve read any comments on here whatsoever that have agreed it should be taught in school.

  99. I think writerdd was pretty clear she didn’t want ID in schools, hence the bold at the end, but the inability to get past words illustrates exactly why you shouldn’t support ID anywhere, but rather, encourage the use of creationism-free terminology and a fuller understanding of science. In dealing with an individual, if ID means science with a hidden god, then that’s ok, but on a larger scale, where nuance gets lost, allowing creationsim-friendly terminology only helps the ID movement, regardless of what any individual adherent means by the term. This is, of course, why groups who exist to take liberties away use names like Liberty Counsel.

  100. I really appreciate Darwinfan’s story, because I think it echoes DD’s.

    When you deal with a group of people who are told they will go to hell if they talk to you–you have to first address their cognitive barriers before you can even have a conversation.

    Telling religious people–and I have had students from all sorts of religions, not just christianity–that they don’t have to give up a core tenet of their life to learn about something new, is the only way to make progress.

    You can shout at people all day and they’ll never change their minds. (case in point: this thread.)
    Or you can try to meet them halfway and say that when we do science, we assume there is no higher power of any sort, and that miracles don’t happen. And you can let that go when you *aren’t* doing science.

    Stephen J. Gould was a phenomenal teacher, and there’s a reason why he came up with the separate magisteria. It works.

  101. *shakes head* Alright, I’ll take this one at a time.

    Please tell me what DD is right about?

    “What the ID “movement” (read: Behe and Demksi and a few others) represents and what average ID-believing Christians represent seem to be two completely different things”

    I thought that this whole conversation had to do with it being OK to “teach” ID in public schools.

    “I never said, for example, that I support the LA law or that I think ID (or public prayer) belongs in the public schools”

    Is that clear enough? Direct quotes from DD herself earlier in the conversation. Can I assume from this that you haven’t been reading? Or just that you can’t remember that far back? I mean, seriously, how the Hell do you manage to so fundamentally get it wrong?

    How’s this one:

    As far asI can tell, WriterDD and Rystefn are fine with teaching ID in public schools

    Form me: “Yes, I’m one of the people who posted Louisiana is Doomed! on my blog, and yes, I see the threat inherent in that. ”

    How much more clearly do I have to spell it out? Every post I’ve made here links back to my blog, and the latest post is decrying the teaching of ID in schools. Hell, in the very beginning I declared that I hated you all for making say ANYTHING in support of ID. What does it take to get this across to you? Do I need to get a friggin’ mural of “transitional forms” tattooed on my back arranged to spell out “Build up that wall!” For fuck’s sake, people!

  102. Frankly, I think people are not reading what she wrote, otherwise, no literate person, in my mind, could conclude that she supports ID movements from DiscoTute in classrooms, or any ID whatsoever (in classroom).

  103. @Bug_Girl: That is a fair point, but a big part of the argument here is not what DD was trying to say, but the choice of words she used. A theistic veiw of evolotion is not a problem for most of us. The argument is mostly based on the unfortunate choice of the term Inelligent Design to describe that veiw, a term that has been firmly claimed by those opposed to science.

  104. Yes, but you see, Ramel, when someone writes something, you have to consider what they mean, consider the author. If a layman uses the word theory, take it as meaning that it is a guess, unless he talks of a scientific theory, unless he doesn’t understand it and says a scientific theory is just a theory. See how theory has various meaning? So can ID mean different things depending on people. In my mind, she made what her meaning was clear.

  105. People seem to be forgeting the fact that she called people fear mongers.

    Do other people here think that the threat to science education is overblown?

    She linked to Phil Plaits blog when she wrote about it.

    Do others think he is a fear monger?

    Are conservatives and their religious allies not “dragging the world to hell. “?

  106. On the fear mongering point, I think I made my stance plain… although seeing how long this “DD said we should creationism in school” bullshit went on, I shouldn’t be so certain.

  107. I feel that a writer should all ways try to be clear in what they say, it is far easier for one writer to be right than to assume that all of the people reading will understand. On a site such as skepchick, dedicated to a target audience with predictable bias the talking about favourably about ID was always doomed to this kind of response, regardless of intent.

  108. I actually found my way here clicking a link on Phil’s site. After reading many of his posts on idiots predicting immenent armageddon I don’t think he qualifies as a fearmonger. Although his new book may cause me to rethink that…

  109. I don’t think Phil was fearmongering, as more like getting people to take action. I do consider the LA legislation a great threat, since it could be a precedent for other states, but in some of the comments, people go a bit too far.

  110. The response was predictable, but I think she was trying to spur on a conversation wherein a few skeptics might step back and take a fresh look, rather than simply lashing out and shouting “ID is evil! Don’t teach religion in schools!” In this, sadly, it seems to have mostly failed. People are ever the same, even when they say they choose to embrace the cerebral, they tend to respond with vitriol to the “other.”

  111. I’m still waiting for anyone to show some evidence that the so-called ‘average christian in the pew’ thinks Intelligent Design means something other than what the morons at the Discovery Institute are pushing…..

    In fact, in June 2007 Gallup published a poll that concluded that 39% of people in the US believed that Young Earth Creationism was definitely true and an additional 27% thought it was probably true.

    43% said that god created man in his present form,

    Here’s the link: http://www.gallup.com/poll/27847/Majority-Republicans-Doubt-Theory-Evolution.aspx

  112. I actually agree with you Rystefen, my first thought on reading this was that she was bored and looking to see how rationaly people would respond. I decided to treat it as serious when I read the clarifications.

  113. Polling has never meant very much. All this tells us is that the average person who answers the phone at dinner time and answers a bunch of question from a stranger is kind of dumb. Color me unsurprised.

  114. Rystefen, if she really wanted a discussion, her first point of failure was to deliberately use a hot button word/phrase developed by a group of deceitful individuals whose main purposes seem to be to re-enforce superstition and to inflict religious education (their variety) on other peoples children.

  115. She used the phrase while specifically pointing out what else it means and how it can be helpful. Don’t project your emotive response into a failure on her part. At most, she baited you into a mistake knowing that most of you weren’t the rationalists you pretend to be. I wish I could believe that was her intent so I could applaud it, but she’s a much nicer person than I am.

  116. Primary responsibility for making sure that communication is understood lies with the person attempting to communicate.

    If I’m trying to talk about christian mythology with my Baptist Minister father-in-law, I’m not going to call it mythology. Even if I define the word correctly, it’s going to provoke a reaction that will not be helpful what I’m trying to communicate.

    If she was actually trying to spark a discussion, she failed, and she failed because of the term she chose.

  117. From most people, PC rage. From me, complete support. Frankly, I find the idea of ascribing wrongness to a word to be morally reprehensible. The word nigger can most certainly be used in a non-racist way, and I’ve had friends inform me that “what’s up, my nigger” was a perfectly correct and acceptable form of greeting, cracker though I may be. Yes, I understand that it would upset many people for me to address them as such, and I tend to default to not doing so, much as I default to not greeting people I don’t know as “fuckers, fuckers, fuckers,” but that’s because I understand that social smoothness sometimes requires concessions to the comfort of others, not out of some sense of the innate wrongness of the words…

    Perhaps you were expecting a different answer, but I’ve had quite the sizable discussion here on that very subject before… not that me explicitly spelling out my stance has done much good in making it clear thus far…

  118. Your response didn’t have a damn thing to do with what I said.

    What I said, essentially, was:

    1. ID has a strong negative connotation for the people on this site

    2. It’s the communicators responsibility to make sure their intent gets across.

    3. Choosing to use ID for this audience resulted in the message not getting across as (presumably) intended.

    4. Responsibility for failure, hers.

  119. The. Point. Of. The. Intended. Discussion. WAS. The. Term.

    Kindly explain how to use another term when discussion why a term should not be so demonized as it is. Please. I’d love to hear your alternative…

  120. Right. She was pointing out a concept which uses the term which is being demonized under a blanket grouping by the skeptical community because it falls under the umbrella of the term, not so much because of the idea itself, as evidenced by the adamant rage against the term rather than the idea itself in this very thread.

  121. Of course, maybe I’m way off on this, as I didn’t start the thread. Had I started such a thread, I’d have done it with the explicit intend to draw out emotional reaction from so-called rationals in an effort to show them how superior they are not. It would have been a rousing success at that.

  122. ok, ok, I now understand that nobody here wants ID taught in schools. what my stupid assis still having trouble understanding is – what is the application of ID if it’snot taught in schools? I thought that it existed solely to be taught in schools. If what is being said is “hey,I think it’s ok for people to believe in ID”,then I don’t understand what the conversation is even about. Sorry.

  123. I’m with bug_girl and darwinfan here, as well as others. It was pretty clear to me from what Donna wrote that she was talking about theistic evolution. I teach math and while I know that terms really, really do make a difference in communication, I also know that in real life people have a tendency to split hairs much less often about terminology, and this is one of those cases. Yes, she was writing to a bunch of skeptics, but she actually defined what she meant in the posting itself, for crying out loud!

    Sometimes, folks, you have to look past the terminology used to the message actually being conveyed.

    Now, the “DOOMED” phrasing is, I agree, maybe a bit much, but I do think that the allowing of ID (the Discovery Institute’s stuff) in science classrooms is dangerous, largely because it puts materials in the science classroom that are most definitely not science. Students already have more than enough confusion about what science is and isn’t, and having materials in the room asserting something is science when it’s not, well, it undoes the work a science teacher is supposed to be doing unless the science teacher is pointing out why it’s not science…….and I think that would likely be counterproductive in some ways as it would tick religious people off more. So……the wording is maybe too strong, but I do support spreading information about this stuff around the scientific and skeptical communities so that scientists can clarify what should and should not be considered science in the science classroom. Similarly, if a state wanted to teach astrology as an alternative theory to astronomy (something I’ve seen people mix up!), I would be very concerned and would want to know so that I could fight against it.

  124. I suppose things like the bolded statement “I don’t have a problem with intelligent design.” could be causing the problem. DD does not seems to recognize that a lot of people do mean ID as a form of creationism. The post reads as if science-friendly ID is the predominant usage of this term or not. I have no idea whether it is or not, so people who have only encountered it in the creationist variation (I’ve never heard it used in a theistic evolutionist way, although I don’t normally interrogate the people I meet about their views on evolution) will, reasonably, conclude that that is how it is used. It would be helpful to provide some examples of people using it in other ways. No, this does not excuse the assertions that DD is promoting ID in schools, or such as that, which she clearly is not, but it does make statements like “I don’t have a problem with intelligent design.” problematic.

  125. “Had I started such a thread, I’d have done it with the explicit intend to draw out emotional reaction from so-called rationals in an effort to show them how superior they are not.”

    Wow,what a useful endeavor.

    Seriously, I still don’t understand the premise. is it: ID is this phrase that specific people came up with to mean a specific (yet, still non-specific, right? I am STILL unclear about what EXACTLY ID is meant to mean) thing that should be taught alongside evolution in public biology class, but
    a) it’s ok to use this term in other ways and then get offended when people are confused as to why you would support what they have cometo understand it to mean (teaching ID in school).and b) the way I use it doesn’teven have to apply to it being taught, even thought it’s specifically somethingthat exists to be taught?

    I’m sorry if I’m too stupid to understand the genius behind being both into the idea of ID and against teaching it in schools even though it was invented as a thing to teach in schools (how else would the concept be propagated? Sunday School? I thought they already did that there? Hence the REASON that the termID exists?)

    (and you’rewelcome, Rys, I ad-ed my own homo there so you didn’t have to.)PS my keyboard sticks. I’m not drunk.yet.

  126. NO ONE SUPPORTS IT BEING TAUGHT IN SCHOOL!

    Is that clear enough? How many times must this be said? The premise is that some people go from creationism to cience by that road, so maybe we shouldn’t be so fired-up to torch that particular bridge.

  127. ..or, who’s going to administer the “bridge” if not schools? And if it’s something that is a personal, mental bridge, then WTF? That’s great…but it’snot “ID” as defined by its creators.

  128. Unless we assume that some people use ID to mean theistic evolution, then it doesn’t make sense that someone can support ID but not teaching it in schools. DD defines ID as being what we might call thestic evolution, but she didn’t give examples of any Christians who actually use it that way. Those who have no experience with it ID being used to mean that are doubting that any Christians actually uses it to mean anything other than creationism. If none do, then a statement like “I support ID” makes little sense. If she only defined it the way she did to make a point, it seems like dishonest word play. I’m willing to accept that she actually does know people who use ID the way she says (as I say, I’ve never met anyone who does), but others are not convinced that this is the case. This is what needs to be dealt with first – is ID ever actually used to mean theistic evolution? That it could be is not enough, we need examples, I think, before we can move forward.

  129. Donna never said she supported teaching ID in the schools – in fact, she said it does NOT belong in a science classroom. My issues with her blog were twofold:
    1. “I support ID as a philosophy because…it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution.”
    She should have used the correct term for what she meant – theistic evolution. ID does NOT accept evolution.
    2. She was complaining about Phil Plait et al trying to get people to oppose the proposed Louisiana bill. As an educator, the Louisiana bill (and the failed Florida bill) do scare me, and I feel we should oppose them. If we don’t speak up against them, people would assume that there’s no one opposing these bills, and the erosion of separation of church and state will continue.

  130. oh,but reactionary contrarian vitriol is so much more productive!!

    Imagine that some group comes up with a name for an abstinence-only, morally biblically-informed sex-ed curriculum that they want to get taught alongside regular sex-ed. Like, along with the droning of teen pregnancy stats and the old banana over a condom, there would actually be time spent on morals and a really strong fear-mongering about being punished with STDs and at the end ofthe course,you could opt to sign up for promise keepers. in class. in public school.

    Now, say this program is called “Healthy Waiting”. Now, say, imagine there is a blogger who posts on a site where maybe a lot of the readers, like her, were inclined to not be very sexually explorative in high school (because they came from households that weren’t open about sex or worse), but a lot of them were, and were very responsible about it,and the truth of the matter is (and the blogger and other readers came to see the truth later in life) that if you are informed and responsible about sex, there is nothing inherently dirty or embarrassing about it (in fact it’s wonderful!)..

    Now, say said blogger says that she doesn’t have a problem with Healthy Waiting,because she herself waited until she was 22 to have sex and she’s just fine, and waiting actually allowed her to experience sex in a positive way eventually because it was at her own pace and waiting,instead of becoming an insecure,uninformed promiscuous teen, was what she did.

    Now, that’s all fine and good that she waited, but “Healthy Waiting” would not be the same as “waiting until I became a little more worldly and realized that my attitudes about sex were not necessarily what they were before…in high school I thought I would go to hell for premarital sex, but after college and talking to peers, I realized…”. And the readers of the blog might be like what the hell?how could you back that program?

    and then people would argue about the meritsof waiting to have sex and the whole thing ends up with a million comments.

  131. I was totally on-board with your Healthy Waiting example, and then it turned out you were against it (or so it seems to me). I think it’s perfectly valid to describe something in that way, and to Hell with people who think they can take a couple of words and lay 100% claim to them. Further, doubly to Hell with those who claim to be opposed to said first group, but back their claim to the words.

  132. Josh, I have run into some people who do use the term intelligent design the way she uses it, but it was in private conversations so it would be entirely anecdotal evidence. Most of the people I know who’ve used the term ID are very into the microevolution vs. macroevolution junk, however, and I’ve never been Christian, so I can’t really speak of the average fundie. I was around a bunch of them growing up, but I tend to avoid the issue now when I’m around them.

  133. I think the words-can-mean-anything attitude is unhelpful. While technically true, we could all agree to refer to tables as rocks if we wanted, it nevertheless remains the case that this will confuse people and cause problems. Using ID for multiple purposes, some we want to promote and some we don’t, will lead, in my estimation, to more good than bad.

    I don’t think this has been addressed explicitly, but I think there are honesty issues with the ID-as-gateway approach. I don’t think its reasonable to conclude there is a god, much less one who originated the species. I presume most commenting here agree. Thus, while more variants of Christianity that accept evolution are more palatable, and not something I feel any pressing need to discourage, I also don’t want to promote them – it would feel dishonest as I think proper reasoning leads to atheism.

    I suspect that this could play a role in some of the animosity to the post – it seems to hint that maybe we should hide our own beliefs a bit to foster something we disagree with but could live with. So while I would not, for example, go out of my way to try to convince the Quakers to give up their religion, I would also not hesitate to say I think it’s not if it comes up for discussion. Likewise, I would go seeking out Christians to tell them theistic evolution is not good enough, but if they bring it into the discourse, I will not refrain from voicing my opinions (negative as they are) on that position.

  134. You know, something struck me while skimming this thread.

    Part of the DI’s cleverness is precisely in using the term “Intelligent Design” to describe sexed-up creationism.

    All of the theistic evolutionists that I know describe themselves as theistic evolutionists, or Christian evolutionists, or some phrase like that that includes the word “evolution” somewhere in there. OK, some would not self-describe as “evolutionist”, but instead would take a line like “I’m a Christian, but don’t ask me where different species came from; ask a scientist if you want to know that”. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable position for a non-scientist to hold.

    Anyway, while that describes the people I know, I can well imagine that what writerdd and others have said may also be correct: Many lay (i.e. non-scientific) de facto theistic evolutionist may well indeed see the term “intelligent design” as accurately describing their position. That is, they look at some beautiful thing in nature and see “God’s handiwork” while also being perfectly aware that natural processes did it.

    So I wonder if the choice was deliberate. Did they choose a term that lay theistic evolutionists would agree with, precisely so they could sow the seeds of a backlash to be reaped when the scientific community inevitably rejected ID?

    Remember, it’s in the DI’s best interests that typical Christians be confused about what they mean by “ID”, because that’s the only way they can spin it as an atheism vs Christianity issue. If everyone really understood what they really meant by “Intelligent Design”, almost nobody would support it. It’s not naturalistic evolution, it’s not theistic evolution, it’s not YEC and it’s arguably not even OEC. It’s actually deliberate ignorance dressed up in scientific language, and nobody wants that.

  135. DD, I respect for your courage. Well done.

    Rather than squabble of this is ID, no it is theistic evolution, why not come up with some ideas about what to actually teach the youth of America?

    I’m all for teaching religion in the schools of the US – comparative religion. A couple weeks on each. It is what they do in the UK and the British seem more sane on this issue.

    What do we in our diversity as skeptics of different stripes think that people graduating from high school should know – not just about math and science, but in other areas? Can we come up with a positive curriculum rather than pointing out the flaws in other people’s curricula?

    Or are we just so pissed off with the non-skeptics in our lives who we can’t yell at that we must verbally abuse each other? If so, go ahead and tell me why I’m an idiot.

  136. Despite my huge respect for Donna, and the way she frequently writes things both informative and thought-provoking, I’d have to say that the original post (at least in the way it had been amended by the time I saw it) was at least ripe for confusion, especially with the add-on about “People are fearmongering – America would not fall apart if ID was taught in schools”, since that can’t obviously refer to anything other than Discovery Institute ID, since no-one seems to be fearmongering about the possibility of mentioning theistic evolution in schools.

    To the extent that someone might call theisitic evolution ID, could it even really be taught in schools? For all its potential value in defending against creationist misinformation, at least for students who aren’t beyond reassurance, it doesn’t appear to have any content beyond what could be stuck on the back of a postage stamp (or a sticker in a biology textbook?), amounting to amount to nothing more than:

    “Evolution and religion aren’t incompatible. An omnipotent deity could still have done stuff. Don’t believe creationist propaganda.”

    and I guess even the last sentence would be troublesome.

  137. Mark Mulkerin said: “I’m all for teaching religion in the schools of the US – comparative religion. A couple weeks on each.”

    There aren’t enough weeks in the school year. :)
    Here’s a list of just the major religions. And that’s lumping all the Christians together, all the neo-pagans together, etc.:
    # Christianity: 2.1 billion
    # Islam: 1.5 billion
    # Hinduism: 900 million
    # Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
    # Buddhism: 376 million
    # primal-indigenous: 300 million
    # African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
    # Sikhism: 23 million
    # Juche: 19 million
    # Spiritism: 15 million
    # Judaism: 14 million
    # Baha’i: 7 million
    # Jainism: 4.2 million
    # Shinto: 4 million
    # Cao Dai: 4 million
    # Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
    # Tenrikyo: 2 million
    # Neo-Paganism: 1 million
    # Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
    # Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
    # Scientology: 500 thousand

  138. Josh, I don’t teach biology but I do teach in a subject area where the students are often terrified of the class. While I do not believe that logic supports the idea of a personal deity, it is not at all my place to try to dissuade my students from their religious notions in the classroom, it’s my job to teach them logical thought among other things and to let the chips fall where they may. If I teach them about how contradictions can be used to tear down arguments and they apply that to their daily life and move to something less harmful, that’s great, but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t make my atheism a big deal one way or the other, but don’t lie about it if asked. I’m not lying, but I am downplaying something that will make the majority of my students even more hostile to my message. What I saw dd talking about in the first part of her post was along the lines of PH’s postage stamp content.

    Now, the DI’s stuff I really have problems with.

    Pseudonym, yes, I think the DI chose the name of its program very carefully. May, many Christians I’ve known, whether or not they accept evolution, have no problem whatsoever with the concept of an intelligent designer — it’s something they view as central to their faith. When you’re in a discussion with them, you might have to hash out what they mean when they use such a phrase. I’ve found that if I return to the word creationism, some of those people will say very forcefully that they don’t believe creationist theology at all and then clarify what they mean, and that some of those people really do mean theistic evolution. (Okay, I’m switching to replying to other stuff in the middle of this……) The other folks, well , I try nicely to give them access to resources that will knock down their arguments and then get out of the way. If someone’s in defensive mode, they’re less likely to listen to me, they’re wrapped up in maintaining their defenses.

    This is where I think the response to the “doomed” language comes in, at least for me. While I do find DI encroaching on public education very, very worrying and will fight tooth and nail against it, I think the language can drive away potential allies. Even if I don’t agree with them, there are people who are going to look at stuff and ask “What’s so bad with an intelligent designer?” and so on. It plays directly into the confusion, into the charges that we teach secular humanism in the schools, and into the charges that the only people who can accept evolutionary theory are atheists. I see the battle as clarifying over and over again what these materials are and how they both promote a Christian view in the schools and actively hurt the teaching of science.

  139. I stopped reading at about 80 comments because I went out last night. I’m leaving for Lith this summer so I don’t have time to catch up on the 174 comments but I trust it is an interesting discussion. Have a great summer in case I don’t get to post at all from my trip!

  140. Probably way past the point anyone cares, but here’s the thing: DD’s original post is calling many people out for reacting with such vehemence to the *idea* of intelligent design. I get that, and I agree with her sentiment as stated. But the *idea* isn’t what gets most people worked up. It’s the specific *applications* of the idea that are cropping up in politics, and the people who are pushing them that have us all worried. Case in point, the LA education bill.

    I don’t think DD is full of shit, but I think she may have misunderstood the aim of those who are calling for action.

  141. I think you and DD are restating ID in a sort of antistrawman (ironman?) argument and then defending it by your definition. Darwin and evolution theory say nothing about whether a god(s) started or manipulated life. Intelligent design as in the Dover case specifically argued that evolution did not and could not have occurred. They claimed irreducible complexity (their examples such as flagellum, blood clotting) of things with specific functions proved organisms were designed and created as they currently exist. As the judge found in that case,ID is not science . When I was young,up until the 6th grade, the morning class started with a bible reading usually from the new testament in PUBLIC school. If you were not Christian , the attitude was tough maybe you should believe the right thing. We do not need to take a step backward. If ID were to be taught showing all the flaws with it then I would say fine but I doubt those that are pushing it would allow this.

  142. “But the *idea* isn’t what gets most people worked up. It’s the specific *applications* of the idea that are cropping up in politics, and the people who are pushing them that have us all worried. Case in point, the LA education bill.”

    exaaaactly.

    I honestly don’t care what kind of stupid/crazy shit anyone believes themselves, I just worry about stupid/crazy shit being espoused and either directly or passively affecting me. Like – if someone wants to settle something here in the US via Sharia law, great. go for it. But once they start suggesting that Sharia should be used alongside the regular system, that’s when I get freaked out.

    So, (one last time for my retarded ass), basically, DD was saying that people should be free to think what they want? (Still nobody has explained how exactly the idea of ID is supposed to be administered to people if not in school.) Uh, well, yeah.

  143. whitebird said: “I honestly don’t care what kind of stupid/crazy shit anyone believes themselves, I just worry about stupid/crazy shit being espoused and either directly or passively affecting me.”

    My feelings exactly. Keep god in church/temple/mosque, etc. and out of school, politics, etc. If people want to worship a god/allah/sun or whatever, that’s their business. But don’t try to convert me to your supernatural beliefs, and stay out of legislation, revisionist history, etc.

    That’s my problem with ID, the Louisiana bill, and fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell. They’re not satisfied with Sunday preaching; they want to take over the schools, Congress, and the White House. And replacing science with supernatural takes us a step back toward the middle ages.

  144. Here is what I think WriterDD is kinda saying about ID.

    There are two “versions” of ID. two “definitions” if you will:
    Intelligent Design, noun:
    1. The Behe/Public Education Movement version: anti-evolution, anti-science. The most common meaning in public debate.
    2. The Christian-in-the-pew version. God was involved, but that’s not incompatible with science.

    The first one is designed to be taught in schools as science. It’s BS, and it shouldn’t be, it needs to be stopped.

    The second one is pretty harmless from a “Science survives intact kind” of perspective, it allows people to accept scientific theories and statements without having to sacrifice personal belief to do so.

    In my experience (as an Australian Christian up until about a year ago) people here agree that they believe in an Intelligent Designer. They use Intelligent Design as a phrase, and they actually mean it as the second definition. (this includes my family, comprising of two pastors, and two other evangelists) It’s also been my experience that this was the common definition in the Evangelist churches I went to.

    The Second Definition version of ID has been taught as The Version here in Aus. Many churches here seem to say “there’s straight-out creationism, or there’s this ID thing, you choose, we think either could be right.”

    Because of the [b]dual meaning of the phrase in conventional usage[/b] when Skeptics attack [b]ID[/b] Christians see it as attacking [b]God[/b], which is why the ID movement gets so much cash.

    As for the second bit, the fearmongering…

    I can see it, she’s right there too. If ID makes it into a school it can’t be long before it’s thrown out based on violation of the constitution. The “unconstitutional” precedent (being a federal thing) must surely trump a state passing law allowing it.

    I’ve seen many of those phrases thrown around the fundie Christian arena too, usually with “secular society” in place of theocracy, (unless we’re talking about a Theocracy of another religion, of course) and it scares me a bit that people here are spouting the same rhetoric with different groups named.

    ID in either definition is [b]not science[/b] DD [b]never said it was[/b], and [b]never said it should be taught in the classroom.[/b] She’s right though, the sky won’t fall down and the world won’t explode if ID is taught. I mean, “doomed”? But I’m not sure I’d call Phil’s article fearmongering.

  145. I guess I might not have called Phil’s article fear mongering on its own, but it was about the fifth blog post I saw in a few minutes on the same topic, all with some sort of loud caps warning about the urgency and impending doom.

    And, just to set the record straight, I am totally against the manipulation and deceit of the Discovery Institute, and I completely oppose ID as a political movement. It’s the philosophy of ID (which, regardless of what Behe, Demski, etc., say, is equivalent to theistic evolution in the minds of most people) that I don’t have a problem with.

  146. Oh, and because I do listen to the comments, I added this update to the post and I plan to do more research and writing on this topic in the future:

    I define intelligent design the way I believe most Christians do, as a form of theistic evolution. I in no way promote or condone the ID political movement that is striving to get creationism taught in public schools in the United States, nor do I support the work or goals of the Discovery Institute, Michael Behe, or William Dembski.

    Thanks for the lively discussion, or, as one blogger called it, the “reasonably polite flame war.”

  147. Mark Mulkerin, I like your comment (#170) looking for positive action to take. I don’t have any answers right now but I definitely think this is the direction we should take. Thanks.

    I know I didn’t answer all of the comments or issues that have been raised, but that’s all I have time for. Sorry.

  148. DD, here is a very incomplete list that I started when Florida was considering this, on why governors should sign these bills in spite of what the antifantics say. Note that reason number three exposes scientists, (and their fanatical followers), for their own political agenda, which they so vehemently deny. These people are concealing the fact that they are only interested in fighting their culture war, and have absolutely no interest in preserving the integrity of science.

    They all assume without any proof that the Discovery institute has simply repackaged their game without changing their tactics, but unlike Dover, they cannot prove it, because these bills typically work with the science standards to specifically PROHIBIT the teaching of religion, creationism, “creation facts”, “creation science” and ID. Any teacher who tries to violate these stipulations will open themselves to the prosecution by the law of their own bills.

    For the following reasons, I see the lies and embellishments of the fanatics as a necessary counter-reaction to the lies and embellishments of these antifantics:

    http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&U=f4af536be6e34501aa356a4a76ef99cf&plckPersonaPage=PersonaBlog&plckUserId=f4af536be6e34501aa356a4a76ef99cf

  149. These people are concealing the fact that they are only interested in fighting their culture war, and have absolutely no interest in preserving the integrity of science.

    Um, who are “these people” that you are referring to? Because no one I know about matches that description.

    The fanatics you mention (the political IDers) are trying to tear down the Constitution by making public schools tools for religious indoctrination and they are perverting science by pretending that pseudo science has credibility and that the supernatural has a place in science.

    The “antifanatics” that I know of, such as PZ, Richard Dawkins, etc., are trying to uphold the Constitution and keep religion and the supernatural where it belongs, in the church, not in the science classroom. I support those goals wholeheartedly.

    The culture war, when it comes to education, is all about “preserving the integrity of science.”

  150. Right, you “assume without any proof that the Discovery institute has simply repackaged their game without changing their tactics, but unlike Dover, cannot prove it”.

    While ignoring the part that explains that…

    “these bills typically work with the science standards to specifically PROHIBIT the teaching of religion, creationism, “creation facts”, “creation science” and ID.”

    AND the part that says that…

    “Any teacher who tries to violate these stipulations will open themselves to the prosecution by the law of their own bills.”

    So it wouldn’t matter what the IDers try to do, since it is ONLY the wording of the law and the science standards that matters.

    You are making an unproven assumption that is bases solely on the historic actions of the DI, rather than on any fact that can be associated with the academic freedom bills.

    “antifanatics” that I know of, such as PZ, Richard Dawkins, etc., are trying to uphold the Constitution”

    It was “heros of science” like these losers who tried to weaken the science standard in Florida.

    You haven’t got a clue.

  151. @island

    I’ve read through your blog, and I simply can’t see the controversy you’re trying to stir up. You’ve obviously got a bee in your bonnet about the anthropic principle (or at least your particular version of it) and seem to think that science standard prohibit you talking about that.

    I also don’t see how that relates to dd’s original post. Your understanding of ID is different again to the understandings we’ve been talking about.

    And your version of the anthropic principle appears to me to be philosophical in nature, not testable. So it shouldn’t be allowed in a science class.

    I did not recognize the hostility you seem to find. I certainly have come across many viewpoints on anthropic style issues in mainstream science. I did my PhD 10 years ago, admittedly, but it was certainly not the case that mainstream science only accepts multiple-words type hypotheses. Far from it.

    Having said that, ideological zeal is definitely not lacking amongst some skeptics (or commenters above). And it is certainly not lacking in your responses or writing either.

    Everybody wants to be right, and it seems to me you’re just as petulant as others when you can’t immediately pursuade others that you are…

  152. LOL… sago, you misinterpret my utter contempt for politics in science for “ideological zeal”, and you don’t seem know the difference between the ideological statement that Brandon Carter made in Poland, (“the anthropic principle”) from “my version of it”.

  153. sago said:
    “I did not recognize the hostility you seem to find. I certainly have come across many viewpoints on anthropic style issues in mainstream science.”

    Well, you could pick up a strong interpretation of the physics and see what happens to you, or you could ask Paul Davies:

    http://www.edge.org/discourse/science_faith.html#davies

    “I was dismayed at how many of my detractors completely misunderstood what I had written. Indeed, their responses bore the hallmarks of a superficial knee-jerk reaction to the sight of the words “science” and “faith” juxtaposed.”
    -Paul Davies

    Ask him what he thinks of PZ Meyers… ;)

    You could also ask Dennis Overbye about the zealotry of these reactionary antifantics:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/science/07essa.html
    “Last week a reader accused me of trying to attract religiously inclined readers by throwing out “God meat” for them.

    It was not the first time that I had been accused of using religion to sell science. Or was it using science to sell religion?

    Last year, I described the onset five billion years ago of dark energy, the mysterious force that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the cosmos, with the words “as if God had turned on an antigravity machine.”

    More people than I had expected wrote in wanting to know why I had ruined a perfectly good article by dragging mythical deities into it.”

    ~

    Trust me, you can’t even begin to imagine what happens, until you accidentally say one word that they recognize as “creation oriented”… even when it isn’t.

  154. @island

    Everyone can say what they like, people react the way they want.

    I know lots of Christian scientists, I was one myself for many years. I simply don’t recognize the hostility you’re trumping up.

    Maybe some people feel victimised over their beliefs – well I’ve met many academics who felt that, over things completely unrelated to faith: those who feel their pet theory was being attacked because they didn’t go to the right grad school, or who felt that their dean was giving too much teaching work to suppress their genius, I’ve seen arguments reminiscent of playground spats in research committee meetings, etc… I’ve read work very much like yours telling me that free expression of doubt over thimerisol, the holocaust, the moon landing and so on are being suppressed by an academic hegemony.

    On the other hand I’ve met plenty of people who are happy to talk about God in Einstein’s terms, and plenty of people who will grumble and complain if you do. That’s life.

    I know at least one colleague of Dawkins, for example, who is a committed Christian. Dawkins has repeatedly said he simply doesn’t understand how that is possible, but he is a good scientist, so it really doesn’t matter to his work or their relationship.

    The idea of a political hegemony in science smells like a conspiracy theory to me. And like anyt conspiracy theory, you can quotemine your way to evidence if you like.

  155. Sago:
    And your version of the anthropic principle appears to me to be philosophical in nature, not testable.

    Just an FYI, but a strong interpretation is falsified by a validated weak one, which can occur either, by defining the mechanism that produces the structure of the universe from first principles that show why we are just an accidental consequence of otherwise highly pointed physics, OR, by validating the multiverse with a proven and tested theory of quantum gravity that necessarily requires said ‘infinite’ set.

    But “my version” has not even been discussed.

    You’re probably confused about the difference between the implications that the observed universe has, and theoretically speculative ways to “explain-away” what is directly observed.

  156. @island – actually I’m quite happy to get into the finer points of this, but since we’re getting well off dd’s topic, how about moving venue so we don’t hijack things?

    If you’re willing to converse by email I am – I can leave a comment on your blog and you can pick up my email from that. Other than than, pcik your forum :)

  157. The idea of a political hegemony in science smells like a conspiracy theory to me. And like any conspiracy theory, you can quotemine your way to evidence if you like.

    And your first choice was to pick up a strong interpretation… take it to, say, talk.origins, and see what happens to you, and I didn’t change the meaning or context of anyone’s words, so your out-of-hand rejection doesn’t mean a damned thing to anything relevant.

  158. @island – Like I say, wanna take this outside? I’m not going to respond here again unless the rest of the community want to run with it.

    Give a guy a break long enough to respond, huh… ;)

    … and we can take it anywhere that you’d like, but I thought that this thread was about spent, anyway… heheh.

    But I note… still… nobody can show how the academic freedom bill means that DI is going to legally get creationism into the schools, so paranoia will destroy ya, but the law will keep creationism out.

  159. Damn, someone beat me to it and posted a 200th comment!

    Here’s a little survey that I’d like to get to a thousand or so Christians. I want them to answer off the top of their heads, not with any research. There are no right or wrong answers because I just want to know what they think. And “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer to any question.

    What is intelligent design?

    What is theistic evolution?

    What is creationism?

    Are any of these the same or do any of these overlap a lot? If yes, please explain.

    Anyone know of a good place, forum, etc, for me to do this survey?

  160. @dd – Good question – it would be good to do e that, although it would be almost impossible to eliminate selection bias.

    @island – new post in the forums under skeptical issues if you’re interested in picking this up.

  161. Sorry, I gave up around 100. Its all been said before, no one is really listening and no one’s going to change anyone’s mind here. A couple of observations around this issue.
    In regard to the end of science as we know it, are we all aware we are talking about a couple of weeks of biology starting about grade 5?
    Second, the underlying issue is what values are we teaching our children. You tell me that you can teach children for 12 years and not teach them values and I will tell you that you are a really poor teacher.
    What we are discussing is really about values. Most of you believe that creation is wrong. Not just not science, but a lie. That is a violation of the establishment clause (Atheism as the state religion).
    As I said at the start of this, I don’t believe I am going to learn anything here, do I am off to other places on the web we the conversation is taking place.

    God Bless
    A Christian Skeptic
    Pat O

  162. @pdohara:
    You’re equating values with religion. I taught my daughters right from wrong without taking them to a church. Yes, I teach my classes values – treat others with respect, etc., but I don’t tell them there is a god (and despite your crack about Atheism as the state religion, I don’t tell them there isn’t a god either. I just don’t bring any gods into the equation.)
    And we’re not talking about a couple of weeks of biology – we’re talking about growing up ignorant of the way the world works.

  163. @pdohara>>”Most of you believe that creation is wrong. Not just not science, but a lie. That is a violation of the establishment clause (Atheism as the state religion).”

    So, it’s a violation of the constitution to have a personal opinion that doesn’t find favour with some specific strands of one particular religion?

    @pdohara>>”As I said at the start of this, I don’t believe I am going to learn anything here.”

    I’m sure that won’t be too distressingly novel an experience for you.

    @Ssteppe>>”And we’re not talking about a couple of weeks of biology – we’re talking about growing up ignorant of the way the world works.”

    Or possibly calculated misinformation, which is worse than ignorance.
    Rather than denying people a drink, the tactic of the DI-brand-ID seems to be to take an unholy dump into the well.

  164. PH, excellent metaphor.

    Rather than denying people a drink, the tactic of the DI-brand-ID seems to be to take an unholy dump into the well.

    Poison the well and destroy the people’s ability to tell water from poison.

  165. I am glad that I read this nibble and absorbed before going to the Amazing Meeting this past weekend. It primed me to think in a way that I would have rejected outright a weekend earlier! When one of the speakers mentioned that he didn’t have much of a problem with ID (because “God” defines territory in need of continued research), I would’ve thought that… um, heretical a week before. But this post primed me to think that way. Thanks!

  166. Ssteppe, is there anything else I am thinking you would like to share with me?

    PH, So anyone who disagrees with you is unlearned?

    Thank you, I think that covers my point. Scepticism, as in critical thinking does not mean disregarding anyone who disagrees with you. In fact it requires that you challenge people who do not agree with you so you can verify (at least to yourself) that your thinking is clear.

    One last time for the record, I don’t support ID. I think it is a political stunt and has nothing to do with science or religion.

    God Bless
    A Christian Skeptic
    Pat O

  167. pdohara.

    I don’t believe I was disregarding you.
    In fact, I was fascinated by your seeming conflation of holding a personal view on religion with violating the US constitution, something which you haven’t seemed to clarify.

    Also, I’m not sure where I said that everyone who disagreed with me was unlearned?

    I’d take issue with your seeming suggestion that participating in debate is necessary to a skeptic clarifying their thinking. If someone actually is a skeptic, and so willing and able to self-analyse, I’d have thought the prime value of debate is exposure to other people’s opinions, not merely the clarifying of one’s own.
    In that sense, being an observer can be about as valuable as being a participant.

    Also, it’s evident from having watched a few creationists debating that debate isn’t some magical route to self-analysis, but could potentially work in the other direction. If someone modifes their position merely to make it hard for anyone else to challenge it in debate, they may also make it hard for themselves to really analyse it critically.

  168. writerdd is right, this thread is dead. PH if you wish to talk more drop me a line pdohara at smallwarz dot org. In regards to:
    @pdohara>>”Most of you believe that creation is wrong. Not just not science, but a lie. That is a violation of the establishment clause (Atheism as the state religion).”

    @PH>> So, it’s a violation of the constitution to have a personal opinion that doesn’t find favour with some specific strands of one particular religion?

    You are correct, I was talking about what is taught in school. I had made a comment that made it sound like I said your personal beliefs are a matter of constitutional law. Which they are not. Teaching kids that it is silly to believe in God is. Yes that does happen in Science classrooms.

    In regard to your second point about self analysis I concede that you are a better man than I. I have never been good at pointing out to myself when I am self deluding. Note that is not something I started having problems with when I became a Christian. I am impressed that you never gloss over things to fit your world view. Things that interacting with others would force you to deal with. That must be great.
    Just to be clear, that last sentence was mostly sarcasm. I am not a fan of self analysis of ideas. We tend not to ask our self tough questions. So I talk to political conservatives, atheists and anyone else who does not agree with my positions. Not all of them of course, but I do try to find the smart ones.

    God Bless
    Pat O

  169. pdohara
    >>”Teaching kids that it is silly to believe in God is. Yes that does happen in Science classrooms.”

    In which case, I’m sure concerned parents can protest about it, assuming that there is meaningful evidence about exactly what was said. I imagine it could be rather easy for some people to take a rather coloured interpretation, especially when it comes to issues they may be emotionally invested in.

    >>”Just to be clear, that last sentence was mostly sarcasm.”

    Thanks for that.
    It’s always interesting when people feel the need to point out their sarcasm, since it gives some suggestion of how bad they think they are at it, or how eager they may be to think or suggest you’d be unlikely to get it.

    Where *did* you develop your talent for hyperbole?
    Just as I don’t recall claiming that everyone I didn’t agree with was unlearned, I don’t recall claiming anywhere that I was perfectly analytical.
    Instead I merely suggested that participating in a debate is neither necessary nor sufficient for clarifying thoughts.

    Further, I suggested that merely clarifying one’s thoughts may not be an advance if the result of the clarification is to make them more resistant to challenge without necessarily subjecting them to any critical analysis.
    I’m sure that throughout history, all kinds of half-baked political and religious philosophies were refined through debate to end up more self-consistent while still being based on the same fundamental internally-unchallenged assumptions.

    >>”I am not a fan of self analysis of ideas. We tend not to ask our self tough questions.”

    There is still the option of trying, in the hope we might get better at it.

  170. sago wrote:

    “words have objective meanings”

    Rofl.. a million dead linguists roll in their grave.

    Words have only conventional meaning – what the speakers want them to mean. Many have tried to control the meanings of words, all have failed.

    I’d suggest you (re)read 1984.

    Sheesh, I sure walked into that one. WHAM! I can hardly believe I wrote that. My only excuse is that I was tired when I wrote it, trying to get down the gist of what I considered was an important point before logging off and going home after a long day at work; but in my haste and fatigue, I used very sloppy wording, and I missed it. I do know better. Mea culpa.

    You are absolutely right: Words have [i]conventional[/i] meanings. That is how I should have put it. “Objective” is definitely the wrong word to have used in trying to say that — and the irony of my critically misusing a key word in a post chiding others about their misuse of words is indeed chastening. Sorry about the misstep.

    ~Wordplayer

  171. DANG IT! Will somebody please fix the Preview function so I can stop doing this to myself? I’m not naturally masochistic; it just looks that way!

    Anyway, here is the same post, with corrected formatting:

    sago wrote:

    “words have objective meanings”

    Rofl.. a million dead linguists roll in their grave.

    Words have only conventional meaning – what the speakers want them to mean. Many have tried to control the meanings of words, all have failed.

    I’d suggest you (re)read 1984.

    Sheesh, I sure walked into that one. WHAM! I can hardly believe I wrote that. My only excuse is that I was tired when I wrote it, trying to get down the gist of what I considered was an important point before logging off and going home after a long day at work; but in my haste and fatigue, I used very sloppy wording, and I missed it. I do know better. Mea culpa.

    You are absolutely right: Words have conventional meanings. That is how I should have put it. “Objective” is definitely the wrong word to have used in trying to say that — and the irony of my critically misusing a key word in a post chiding others about their misuse of words is indeed chastening. Sorry about the misstep.

    ~Wordplayer

  172. I posted the following comment on the pother blog as well.

    I take pretty serious exception to being called a “fear-monger”. That implies someone who is exaggerating the risk, and I don’t do that. I make it very clear just what the risk is.

    The term Intelligent Design has a very specific meaning, and it’s creationism revamped to circumvent the Constitution. That was the key issue ion the Dover case, and while you might personally consider it to mean something else, it has a very different meaning to millions of other people.

    Teaching it in any form is unconstitutional. Not to forget wrong.

  173. Of course it’s wrong, and wrong to teach in schools… but the point here was not about it being taught in schools – rather about its existence. Moreover, about its existence in a different form that what the DI is pushing. As I stated before, it is one of the DI’s greatest strengths that it can pull the wool over the eyes of so many people, and con them into thinking they agree with one another. That is precisely why it’s so critical to fight them, because they are hard at work trying to turn on of the few bridges leading from creationism to science into a bridge leading from nearly-rational religion to their own brand of wacko.

    As for fear-mongering… Honestly, I think we could use some more fear on this particular subject. While I semi-agree with DD here that it wouldn’t cause an immediate collapse of our civilization, I’m utterly certain that it could easily be a step in that direction, and said as much on my own blog at the time.

    I think it’s very important here to remember that DD is NOT supporting the teaching of ID in schools, and she’s reiterated that point several times here. The real point here is that she’s not as rabidly and reflexively against the idea as an idea than seems to be common practice here and elsewhere in the skeptical world, and she gave valid reasons why… keeping in mind that she was referencing a different brand of ID than what the DI is selling. Yes, you and I and the skeptical world (and luckily at least some of the legal world) recognize that junk for exactly what it is, but a great many other people do not, and that is how the DI gets the amount of support it has.

    Make no mistake, they’re a canny bunch, and they know how to play their target audience like a bunch of fiddles. Railing at ID the way we so often do can easily drive away the very people we should be reaching out to. Carefully explaining what we mean before doing so could do a world of good on that front.

  174. it is one of the DI’s greatest strengths that it can pull the wool over the eyes of so many people, and con them into thinking they agree with one another.

    If only they’d use their powers for good, they could help create World Peace, rather than World Pieces.

  175. Railing at ID the way we so often do can easily drive away the very people we should be reaching out to. Carefully explaining what we mean before doing so could do a world of good on that front.

    Having grown up in the conservative Christian world, I can definitely vouch for this. Things were presented as entirely black and white to us, and when the opponents of strict six-day creationism could so easily be (accurately) quoted as calling us hatemongers, idiots, etc., the black and white version of the world was an easy sell. They hate us, therefore we’re persecuted.

    It wasn’t until I was an adult that I met more reasonable people who would admit to shades of grey and not feel obligated to turn my Christianity into an excuse to belittle my intelligence, my rationality, and any hope of having a reasonable conversation with me. Polite disagreement isn’t going to sway your hard-and-fast creationist / ID proponents, but for people like me who were looking for a different way of thinking, polite disagreement made all the difference.

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