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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

At the Holidays: Getting In Touch with My Inner Wing-Nut

Because this week Americans were celebrating holidays that mark God’s intervention with an undeserving world, I thought that it was just the time to get in touch with my inner-wing-nut.

There is no better way to reach the impish conservative deep inside who traffics in taboos than to snuggle up with Judge John Jones’ opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District – the Pennsylvania Intelligent Design case. And the opinion does oblige a good bit of snuggling; as it spans 139 double-spaced pages.

I had an extremely long (indeed bandwidth crushing) post on this subject in mind, but I have trimmed it to simply an overly long post. (And my apologies for even that….) Below are a few of the politically-incorrect things that my inner wing-nut came out with at the conclusion of that opinion. To my mind:

1. It is a constitutionally modest proposition for a School Board to its direct teacher-employees to state that: (1) There are gaps to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution; (2) There are limits on what Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is able to explain; and (3) a book which explores those topics is available in the school library for the students who would like to read it.

2. It strips all meaning of the words “establish” and “religion” to declare that any public reference to the Deity has the effect of establishing a state religion. It is worse still, when the School District’s required declaration in the Dover case at most, only implied a Deity – unambiguously declaring that “the school leaves the discussion of the Origin of Life to individual students and their families.”

3. Judge Jones’ opinion includes a breathtaking view of the power of federal courts; namely:

a. Is there any matter that is beyond Judge Jones’ reach if he may rightfully declare: “It is unconstitutional to teach [Intelligent Design] as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom” and the Dover School District is further enjoined from requiring Dover biology teachers to “denigrate evolution.”

b. The court boldly declares that “science cannot be defined differently for Dover students than it is defined in the scientific community ….” Why not? While it may improvident and unwise to have matters that are not testable or falsifiable alluded to in biology classes, by what authority may the federal courts say that this misdirection is unlawful? None is cited by Judge Jones. While the Board Members of the Dover School Board were elected (and later turned out of office) based upon these sorts of pedagogical judgments, I am not aware that Dover voters were likewise permitted to cast ballots for members of the “scientific community.” Because, if locally-elected officials are not permitted to contradict the “scientific community,” the very least that we can hope for is that we will be granted the right to select those who govern on our behalf.

c. It is troubling that Judge Jones apparently believes that a key purpose of the Dover Public Schools is subversion of the family. He ruled that it amounts to a constitutionally permissible establishment of religion if the public schools “’remind[] school children that they can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life’ thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class’s study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt ….”

While mindful that it is politically and intellectually incorrect to be in defense of “known creationists” these days, my inner wing nut doesn’t care. He’s more worried about the likes of Judge Jones than the ousted members of the Dover School Board.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I am not an advocate of teaching ID in basic science class. I don't have a problem with it getting a mention, but learning about ID does nothing to develop a student's deductive reasoning when making penut brittle. Perhaps ID should be preserved for philosophy class. Besides, even if promotoers of science can show scientifically how an amoeba grew into a hamster, they still have problems with where the amoeba came from.... and so on and so on. Thus, it just becomes a neverending argument.

However, what is a teacher supposed to do if a student asks about ID in class. Should they send the student to the principals office. Maybe the student should be ridiculed and put in the corner with a dunce hat for challenging the state. Maybe we should have concentration camps for thought crimes. How dare students have an independent thought and not follow the hard-core doctrine of the Left and the Judge Jones' who decide what is right.

Where is my little red book?

9:22 AM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

Lance and s'saurus:

A considerable percentage of people in this country not only reject Darwinism, but actually believe the Bible is literally true, word for word, and interpret this to mean that the world is only 10,000 or so years old. Many of them are also quite good at arguing why carbon dating and other scientific arguments that the world is about 4 billion years old are wrong. And these arguments sound pretty good to the non-expert.

So is it also ok to introduce into science class the "controversy" regarding the history of the earth (and the universe)? Have school boards direct teachers to let the students know that not everyone agrees that the world is old and that humans have been around for only a small percentage of this time?

11:45 AM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

My point is that junior high school and high school are too basic to introduce ID topics for discussion. You go to high school to learn the basics, not to debate the unknown. If evolution is taught, it should be taught as a theory and as an example of how to practice scientific method and deductive reasoning (i.e. that you can do experiments where A + B = C, etc.... We can use evolution to deduce that humans could have evolved from from apes because of how A + B + C / Time = D, etc....

Of course all of it could be wrong. We could be wrong that mixing Blue and Yellow creates Green. Perhaps, the "beast" is fooling us into believing we are seeing green when we are really seeing mush. This would be an interesting theory, but it doesn't help the student learn the scientific method.

This is where ID falls. ID does not help a student learn the basic tools to involve themselves into more difficult areas of study in the future.

However, the school should also avoid teaching evolution as the truth rather than just a method. If the secularists and ID supporters could agree on this point, perhaps the issue would be lad to rest (for the time being).

1:42 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...


If evolution should be taught as a theory and an example of the scientific method, but not as truth, does this also apply to the earth being billions of years old? That is, that's the theory, but we could be wrong?

7:01 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Your point is well taken. We could be wrong, but what other evidence do we have (other than theology) to put an age on the earth.

People keep arguing over the age of the earth and the age of the universe. Deriving the age of the earth from scientific method really only puts a baseline on all other theories and puts them into context. Knowing that life may have began 3 billion years ago is more meaningful? when you know the earth is 5 billion years old.

If you think about the earth being 5 billion years old....the thought is so incomprehensible that calling it the truth is too simple.

10:12 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

My point in bringing up the age of the earth is

1) Both Darwinism and an old earth are rejected by large portions of the American public, and

2) Both Darwinism and an old earth are nearly unanimously agreed by scientists as proven true. There is simply no scientific controversy on either. Darwinism is not simply a hypothesis. As far as 99.5% of biological scientists are concerned, the evidence is so overwhelming that its no longer worth talking about, any more than it's worth talking about whether the earth is 10,000 years old. It is simply not true that Darwinism is "controversial." It isn't.

10:20 PM, December 27, 2005  
Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Yes, but there is controversy over the creation. There are different levels of ID - those who believe that God outright took Adam's rib and those who believe god had a hand in creating the first proton and left everything else to chance (which is another form of planning), and those in between.

12:21 AM, December 28, 2005  
Blogger Scribbler de Stebbing said...

MY ID theory is that we're some far-away alien high school kid's fruit fly lab project.

2:41 PM, December 28, 2005  

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