Sunday, May 22, 2005

Crossing the Line in Kansas

I'm on record as being fine with the idea of teaching evolution as a theory, since that's what it is. Until speciation is actually observed, it's likely to remain an untested theory. Which is why the way some people support it as dogma is actually a religion, since religion is belief in the untestable. But proponents of "intelligent design" want to redefine science to be more like religion.
The Kansas school board's hearings on evolution weren't limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of "intelligent design" are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what's observed in the world.

Instead, they want to define it as "a systematic method of continuing investigation," without specifying what kind of answer is being sought. The definition would appear in the introduction to the state's science standards.
The fundamental problem with this fiasco in Kansas is, of course, that a government body is involved in education in the first place. But, as long as they are, these fools have no business trying to impose a fantasy definition of science.

I'm not even against the idea of religion being taught in schools (private ones). Just don't confuse science with religion. There's too much and religion masquerading as science as it is.

A nice piece on Tech Central Station covers the "Intelligent Design" mess.
Then there is the simple fact that the "theory" of ID is no theory at all, not in the sense that the word is used in science. It is not based on the best available evidence; it enables no predictions; and it is thus not testable. It is, at best, a paltry substitute myth that incorporates some of what actual science has learned or theorized but spurns not only scientific rigor but any intention to perform science. It is not, as claimed, a legitimate criticism of a scientific theory but a criticism of having such a theory at all. No less than the Creation Scientists, and no less than dear Bishop Wilberforce in 1860, though far less forthrightly, the proponents of ID wish to draw an arbitrary line and use the force of the state to declare that science shall not cross it.
Missing entirely in the "Evolution vs Creationism" debate is that the two terms are orthogonal. Creationism claims that God created everything, but is completely silent about how. Darwinian Evolution is a theory to explain speciation, but which is completely silent on how life began, much less the origins of the universe. Both sides need to admit that they haven't got all the answers about everything, and to stop playing in each other's sandboxes. The Creationists need to let go of the idea that theirs is a science, and evolutionists need to let go of the idea that their scientific theory trumps religion. Meanwhile, pity the poor inmates - I mean "students" - of the gummint skools in Kansas should this pass.


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