Thursday, August 04, 2005

Intelligent Design

The debate over whether intelligent design ought to be taught in the public shcool alongside evolution heated up over recent remarks by President Bush's. He stated that both should be taught so that children would know what the debate is about. From the transcript,

Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.

But it seems that this has triggered some people. Here's what one blogger had to say

Scientists have established the fact of evolution with thousands of lines of evidence and the work of hundreds of thousands of researchers. This idea is based on material evidence and repeated experiment, extensively documented in the scientific literature.

This evidence flatly contradicts literal religious accounts.

Since when did evolution become fact? I'm not about to get into the debate but I love how they state theory as true and then use this new "fact" to reject other possibilities. Here's how scientist Stephen Jay Gould get's around it in his book, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, pp. 253-262.

Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only
because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of
argument that they themselves favor). In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Evolutionists have been clear about this distinction between fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred.

So evolution is fact because it has confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent. Who has confirmed this? The scientists who believe the theory?

Interestingly, further in the article he and I actually agree,
It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all these grounds.
So now I can atleast say that a noted evolutionist and I can agree on something!

For an interesting website on Creation -v- Evolution see Answers in Genesis.

Hat tip: Edwonk

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