Dover, Kansas, Creationism and Sound Science
Some might be aware of the court case over the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in Dover Pennsylvania high school biology classes. My take on the court case is that the side opposing the teaching of the religiously motivated psuedo-science is most likely going to win. However, in other news the election for the school board in Dover has swept the school board clean of the ID proponents.
Dover CARES candidates swept eight seats available on the Dover Area School Board in tonight’s election, according to unofficial vote totals from the York County elections office.
Sixteen candidates sought the eight seats and were split into two camps, based largely on the issue of intelligent design.
Dover CARES candidates think that if intelligent design is referenced, it should be in an elective course, such as comparative religion.
All of the winners ran as Democrats, but it is my understanding that at least 4 of the incoming board members are actually Republicans who ran as Democrats to oppose the ID favoring incumbents.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Intelligent Design is banned from the school as some people like to claim. Judy McIlvaine, a winning candidate who will take a seat on the board on December 5th has said,
“We are all for it [intelligent design] being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class. It is not a science.”
In short, what it looks like is that ID will be in the school, it just wont be part of the science curriculum, but will instead be part of an elective course.
In Kansas however the news is less good. The Kansas Board of Education has come out with new standards that allow for the teaching of ID in science classrooms. This is really a sad day for Kansas school children as they will now be lied to as part of the State’s official policy. The policy has statements such as,
The new standards include a statement that fossil records are inconsistent with evolutionary theory.
This notion is either the result of somebody who has an ideological/religious agenda and is dishonest, completely ignorant, or possibly both. Of course, there are gaps in the fossil record. We expect their to be gaps because fossilization is not a common occurence. Thus, the idea that there should be all these fossils showing gradual evolution for all lifeforms is expecting too much. In fact, precisely the opposite case can be made. If we looked around and found fossils showing gradual evolution for any and all life forms we should be suspicious. This would be a case of “data that is too good to be true”. The same thing can be said for the often heard claim by creationist that dogs don’t give birth to cats. No, the don’t and if they did it would actually be evidence against evolutionary and not evidence in favor of it.
Over at the Discovery Institute (DI) they are happy with this outcome. Of course, this nonsense about “a controversy” with regards to ID is just that: nonsense. There are controversies in evolutionary theory. One previous controversy I mentioned previously was the notion of symbiogenesis which initially was considered nonsense. But the primary proponent of the new theory, Lynn Margulis, did hard work, gathered data and presented it in the professional journals. Now her work is considered to be a break through…and get this it is non-neodarwinian to boot. Of course, this is an advanced topic and wholely unsuitable for an introductory course such as high school biology courses.
The controversy that the DI people talk about is a fake controversy. They point to the “weaknesses” and make it sound like this is evidence for their theory of supernatural intervention (a.k.a. Intelligent Design). The problem is that all theories have “weaknesses” and it is bad science to then attribute these “weaknesses” to the supernatural. The ID controversy is completely non-existent.
We can only hope that the people of Kansas will realize that their Board of Education has humilated them by opening the door to psuedo-science once more and will head to polls and vote these clowns out of office as was the case in Dover.
Update: Just thought I’d linke to Michael Demmon’s post on letting the political process decide what is and is not science. Michael is quite right, it is the wrong way for our society to go. While majority rule, democracy, and so forth are preferred to other forms of government it does not follow that it should be used for any and all decisions. In science alternate explanations do not have to get “equal time” or be given the same consideration as the dominant theory. Science is evidence based and those theories and hypotheses that fit well with the data are given the most weight.