Thus Spake Zuska
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Read the Intelligent Designer's Prayer

Oh please, oh please, oh please...

You just gotta go read The Intelligent Designer's Prayer at The Panda's Thumb.  An excellent blog for keeping up on all things evolution.  Wonderful list of resources, including pseudo-science sites (yes, the Discovery Institute is there!), evolution resources, science & evolution blogs, and state science groups. 

It's good for updates and blog chatter on the Dover, PA trial. 

5:03:41 PM    comment [] trackback []

Unintended Consequences

Read this, then scroll down and read the comment by Peter Plagens - very good. 

To Debate or Not to Debate Intelligent Design?. Gerald Graff, who coined the phrase "teach the controversy," applies it to the issue of the moment. [Inside Higher Ed]

I totally disagree with Gerald Graff, who ought to go read Chancellor Hemenway's article before he goes natteriing on about how teaching the debate could reinvigorate science classrooms.  Designism isn't actually about debating, dude.  It's about stamping out evolution. 

Which is why Peter Plagens's comment is so great.  The Law of Unintended Consequences - what does happen if we start teaching ID in our science classrooms and some kid wants to challenge and question ID theory just the way the ID folks want to challenge and question evolution?  I'm guessing the Christian Right kids are going to get their knickers in a knot, complain at home, and Mom and Dad will march down to the school and tell the principal that their precious child's religious freedom is being impinged.  Then where do we go from there? 

4:28:40 PM    comment [] trackback []

From Slate - Darwin Gets Schooled

Darwin Gets Schooled. The latest chatter in cyberspace. [Slate Magazine]

Good summary of what everybody's yammering about regarding the trial in Dover, PA.  With links to blogs and a summary of the trial. 

4:13:10 PM    comment [] trackback []

Hemenway Understans the Enemy

Chancellor Hemenway's 1999 article on the evolution controversy in Kansas is worth reading.  And as he says, if you think it can't happen in your state, think again.  I heave a heavy sigh as the evolution trial gets underway in Dover, PA this week.  A friend of mine who rejoiced when I moved from Red Kansas to Blue Pennsylvania said "If I didn't know better I'd think they were following you."  But I love Kansas as much, I think, as I do my birth state of Pennsylvania, and it grieves me equally to see science assailed in any place.    

Hemenway is disturbingly precise in describing why the Kansas Board of Education members present such a serious threat to scientific literacy, to science itself, and therefore to our society:

What has been overlooked in all the commotion is the philosophical premise underlying the thinking of the majority of the board.  I believe that it wishes to destroy the idea that the public schools should be a source of truth or certainty.  Whereas educational institutions - especially colleges and universities - define their mission as the pursuit of truth, the majority of the board seems to believe that the only sources of truth or certainty are the church and the family.  According to that view, family values are expressed as the family's right to determine what a child shall believe, and religious values are expressed as theological beliefs that schools must accommodate.  If scientific evidence conflicts with those religious beliefs, science must be rejected, no matter the weight of the evidence. 

The irony of the position is worth contemplating.  By rejecting scientific facts, and using the term "theory" in its lay meaning of speculation, rather than in its scientific meaning of an understanding that develops from observation, experimentation, and reflection, the Kansas Board of Education is trying to use the integrity of science to destroy science.  If all science is "theory" then its uncertainty demotes it, and there is no question of its inferiority to religious faith. 

It's a great strategy, isn't it?  The enemy is not stupid, my friends.  The enemy is very, very clever, and very, very strategic.  And once science has been completely undermined and demoted, then the Discovery Institute version of Christian science can be installed.

A question that has occurred to me recently, however, is this:  Who will do their science?  Who will train their scientists?  Will all the actual scientists be run out of the universities and the high school science classrooms, with a religious litmus test for science teachers - you know, a little like the purging of Jews from the universities in Germany in the 1930s?  Where will their scientific expertise come from?  Who will train the medical doctors?  Or will they allow enough heathens to stay on so as to keep the machinery running?  Kind of like science in the Soviet Union during the Lysenkoism phase?     

I'm betting on Lysenkoism.  They are too pragmatic to throw out the scientist with the evolution theory, so to speak.  What shall we call it?  IDism?  Designism?  I think Designism, because the ID forces talk about wanting to instill Design Theory principles across the board, not just in science, but as the basis for all society.  Just as Chancellor Hemenway outlines above.  God designed life this way, and so you must live this way.  Sorry, Jews.  Sorry, Muslims.  Sorry, atheists.  You'll all just have to get on board or be very, very quiet.  Very, very sorry, homosexuals.  You'll all just have to go away to another country, or die, or something.   Note to teens struggling with their sexuality:  the conservative Christians have an answer for you:  No room for you at this inn.  

Hey, didn't someone once say that to Jesus's Jewish mother and father?    

3:43:44 PM    comment [] trackback []

Univ. Kansas Chancellor Speaks Out on Evolution

These are not happy times for science in Kansas. 

The Chancellor of the University of Kansas, Robert Hemenway, has issued a statement affirming that "evolution is the central unifying principle of modern biology, and it must be taught in our high schools, universities, and colleges."  He states that on a personal level he sees no contradiction for people of faith to believe in both God and evolution. 

Within the statement there is a link to an article the Chancellor wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1999 that presents his view of how schools, science, and society connect with each other and how this matters for scientific literacy.  The article focused in particular on the University's role/responsibilities for creating scientific literacy.

In today's daily update, the Chronicle of Higher Education noted:

The chancellor said candidates for faculty jobs at the university have been asking "what the environment is like in Kansas" - meaning that they are worried about the controversy over evolution versus intelligent design.  Mr Hemenway said he does not believe that any candidates have declined job offers because of the controversy.

Give them time.

Mr. Hemenway sent his message just as a court battle got under way in Pennsylvania over whether to teach intelligent design in a public school district.  Mr. Hemenway said the timing was coincidental, though his message did say that evolution is under attack in the United States and that intelligent design should be taught in religion classes, not science classes.

Maybe the sleeping giants of science are starting to wake up and realize that this is a PR battle as much as a battle about "truth" or "what counts as science".  Zuska gives Chancellor Hemenway three major big cheers. 

You have to do something in a state where Steve Abrams, chairman of the Kansas Board of Education, believes in creationism and says "When you get down to the bottom line, if you understand the Bible and you understand evolution, you have to decide which one you believe."  (quoted in the Chronicle article)  He does rush to reassure the Chronicle reporter that his "personal beliefs [in creationism] are irrelevant".  

And Zuska has a bridge she would like to sell you... 


3:16:52 PM    comment [] trackback []

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