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Thursday, November 18, 2004


Evolution Discussion

posted by Brian Ulrich at Thursday, November 18, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
A conservative friend of mine and I have been discussing how evolution, intelligent design, and the like fit into a hypothetical school's biology curriculum. His initial post is here, my response here, and his response here. The thing that leaps out in all this is that we are having a discussion rather than calling each other names like anti-religious leftwinger and rightwing theocrat. If people can discuss this stuff, what can't they discuss if only they focus on solutions rather than winning a zero-sum game?


this is razib....

* i am sympathetic to 'libertarian boilerplate.' nevertheless, i know that as a matter of policy we aren't going to abolish public, moving on.

* you two are dancing around the important issue, "what is science?" well, you probably know well enough that reading carnap, popper, going on about falsification, induction, deductive hypotheses, etc. in the end is basically a way to triangulate what science is, science is in the end experienced & practiced, not defined.

* but, who experiences and defines science? scientists.

* so i think one must say scientists in the end define what science is, all due respect to philosophers of science.

* science is a method more than a set of particular facts.

* so the problem with intelligent design is more methodological than the particulars of the facts.

* many scientists are theists and personally accept some aspect of the intelligent design model.

* nonetheless, many of the same scientists will reject that this is a ***scientific hypothesis***

* the proof is in the pudding. i invite readers of this blog to read origins & design, the ID movement's flagship publication. i would offer that there really isn't much of a standard scientific program there, that it is more philosophical, theological, and metascientific.

* to conclude, the problem is that local people do not determine science. they can pretend that they determine science, and most students will not be hurt by this, but a minority who are going into scientific professions might be confused by the mispresentation of the state of affairs. ID is simply not part of the debate in the real world.


A pretty limited discussion, though, when you cede the best argument against teaching intelligent design at the beginning.

I don't think that we should argue that creationism is silly. I think it is, but I doubt I will convince anyone. The point is, this is biology class. There is no scientific evidence, and no secular purpose, for teaching intelligent design in the public schools. It is less controversial and more ecumenical than teaching that Jesus is your savior, or that there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet, but it is equally lacking in objective evidence and secular purpose.

In general, I think we should not say to conservatives "you're stupid" or "you're bigots" or "you're ignorant", but we also should not be afraid to say, in very strong and unequivocal terms, "you're wrong."


From and


Only a Third Believe Darwin's Evolution Theory

According to a new Gallup poll, "only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say."

Furthermore, forty-five percent "also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."

Well, that certainly explains a lot.


Personally, I don't understand the Creation theory. It is a belief that is supported by no evidence (except perhaps for a single book written about 2000 years ago). I understand that believers of this theory require no evidence, and only their belief, to confirm the existence of an Intelligent Designer (a.k.a. God). However, whenever a scientist expresses his confidence in evolution, he is instantly bombarded with requests for solid evidence.

Even when presented with solid evidence, such as the existence of vestigial organs, fossil records and covergent evolution (unrelated species of animals developing similar characteristics to adapt to similar living conditions), many Creationists ignorantly turn a blind eye. I understand that these people are entitled to their opinion, even if it is wrong.

Evolution is universally agreed upon as a proven scientific theory and, as such, should be taught in school, at least until a revised theory is agreed upon in the future. To teach religious beliefs in a BIOLOGY class is just plain idiocy. While we're there, in other classes, let's teach our children that Zeus is our king, or that our flat earth balances on the back of an immense elephant. Religion is religion. It is not biology.


I am wondering what other people think about the topic. Why not post a comment?


Surfing some of the Gay blogs today I stumbled onto your blog. I liked it! Thanks for the posts...


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.