One Long Argument:
One small primate helping to defend science education against the advance of neocreationism.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Isn't it ironic?

Meanwhile, back on the ranch . . .
HARRISBURG - Only hours after Gov. Rendell and several lawmakers participated in the ribbon-cutting that opened the global biotechnology conference in Philadelphia yesterday, other legislators in the state Capitol were resurrecting the debate over evolution.

As some of the world's leading scientists considered the latest advances in disease treatment, stem-cell research and bioterrorism response, a panel of educators, scientists and civil libertarians clashed over a recently introduced bill that would allow the teaching of intelligent design in Pennsylvania.
The Inquirer describes ID as "a concept advanced in the 1980s," which may be technically correct but neglects to mention the extent that it's just a warmed-over version of Paley's 1802 blockbuster Natural Theology, which insisted on "the necessity, in each particular case, of an intelligent designing mind for the contriving and determining of the forms which organized bodies bear." As he said, in his famous (borrowed) metaphor
. . . when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive. . . that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker -- that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use. . . . The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD."
Modern ID differs in only a few details - talk about methodological naturalism (Johnson), mathematical games (Dembski), and examples drawn from modern biology (Behe) rather than "the hinges in the wings of an earwig, and the joints of its antennae," which to Paley were "as highly wrought, as if the Creator had nothing else to finish. We see no signs of dimunition of care by multiplicity of objects, or of distraction of thought by variety. We have no reason to fear, therefore, our being forgotten, or overlooked, or neglected."

That's touching. I'm serious. Unfortunately, a relative of this fear - much of the motivation behind the ID movement - comes through loud and clear in the comments of the State Representative sponsoring the bill, Thomas C. Creighton (R., Lancaster). After all, he says, ""The current code has a bias toward atheists who promote evolution theory." And I suppose this is true - just as it has a bias towards atheists who promote heliocentrism, or lightning rods . . .

It's not about God. (Despite what Rep. Creighton and others have been led to believe). It's about science.

posted by Dan S. on 8:34 AM |

"As this whole volume is one long argument, it may be convenient to the reader to have the leading facts and inferences briefly recapitulated . . ."
Charles Darwin, "On The Origin of Species"

The debate: FAQs and facts
Science and creationism (NAS)

National Center for Science Education
Defending the teaching of evolution in public schools: with evolution/creationism news updates and many resources.
Understanding Evolution
Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science
Evolution - Education and Teaching

Grandeur in this view of life . . .
Tree of Life web project
Evolutionn Entrance (UCMP)
Evolution (PBS)
BBC Education: Evolution
Macroevolution (UTexas)

TalkOrigin's Index of Creationist Claims.
Find them all here!

The law
Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education (1981)
More to come

Pending legislation
Ongoing attempts to mandate the teaching of neocreationism in science classes
New York State Bill 8036 (died in committee)
Pennsylvania House Bill 1007

In the schools
Dover, PA
Dover biology: Ongoing reporting from the York Daily Record
Dover C.A.R.E.S. Intelligent Design FAQ

Science/evolution-ish blogs
Transitions: The Evolution of Life
The Panda's Thumb
The Loom
Evolution Blog
Evolving Thoughts
Philosophy of Biology
Thoughts From Kansas
Red State Rabble
The Questionable Authority
Unscrewing the Inscrutable
The Biology Refugia
Deinonychus antirrhopus
Law, Evolution Science, and Junk Science

The Evolution Project: Documenting evolutionary biology being used!

Intelligent Design

The infamous Wedge Document. Read it!
Uncommon Descent
More to come!

The library (shelving in progress)
On The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity, by Jennifer Ackerman
Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism, by Robert T. Pennock
Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives, by Robert T. Pennock (Ed.)
Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, by Kenneth R. Miller
Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, by Barbara Carroll Forrest and Paul R. Gross
At the Water's Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea, by Carl Zimmer

Master Planned: Why intelligent Design Isn't, by H. Allen Orr, The New Yorker
Wedging Creationism into the Academy, by Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch, Academe
The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name, by Jerry Coyne, The New Republic


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