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Dover School Board Rescinds Old Board Policy on Intelligent Design

A variety of news sources have reported that last night, the school board of Dover, Pennsylvania rescinded the previous board's policy on intelligent design by a unanimous voice vote of 8-0. They also voted not to appeal Judge Jones's ruling from a few weeks ago, in which he ordered intelligent design to be removed from science classes.

This news is not entirely unexpected, of course. When the old school board got voted out of office, it was inevitable that no matter how Jones had ruled, the new school board was going to get rid of the old policy. Still, it's nice to hear about the follow-through.

Sad to say, however, the fight to keep evolution in science classes is an ongoing one. For one thing, we still have the redefinition of science that has been placed on the books in Kansas. For another, the creationist activists (for that is what they are) will not go away. They will continue to push their agenda, which will evolve again in an attempt to become more palatable for public education.

And yes, I do mean "evolve." I have always been amused by the fact that their arguments do evolve in an attempt to better fit the niche of a science class. When teaching creationism in public school science classes was ruled unconstitutional, they came up with the notion of "creation science," claiming that their view that God created human beings without resorting to evolution was a form of science. When that didn't work, they came up with intelligent design. I must admit I am curious to find out what they come up with next.

After all, it is evolution in action. And they'd probably be chagrined to hear that.


>mab wrote:
>After all, it is evolution in action. And they'd probably be chagrined to hear that.

Shh. You could be accused of social Darwinism for such a comment, which is even more irritating to some of them than biological Darwinism is!
Interesting you should say that. Were you aware that the reason why creationists have pushed to get evolution out of science classes is because of the social Darwinists? In the early 20th century, most creationists were content to let the schools teach evolution, because they would be able to teach their own children creationism at home and in the churches. But when people like William Jennings Bryan saw how pernicious the philosophy of social Darwinism had become, they decided to uproot it from its source, evolution.

Eevn today, most creationists (by which I mean people who believe in a somewhat literal interpretation of Genesis) are willing to leave the schools alone. It's only handful that attacks public school science classes, but sadly, they are a well-funded vocal handful.
Interesting, I was unaware of the genesis of that... ;->

Even for the people who argue they "can't see" biological evolution (and I'm willing to allow them that because it's generally a fairly slow phenomenon), you'd have to be completely and absolutely brain dead to not observe social Darwinism.
Evolution by a process of natural selection, no less. It's memes. :)
Exactly! It's natural selection. When one of their ideas "dies" and is unable to reproduce in the minds of students, that theory gets selected out in favor of a new, hardier strain. Which then gets killed off as well, but it always takes a while.
Well, correspondence to observations in reality is quite a beneficial trait for a meme to have, don'tcha know.
Actually, the question of Cain's wife appears in both Jewish and Catholic circles.

Rashi, the medieval biblical scholar, quotes (in his commentary on Leviticus 20:17) a midrash that Cain was born with two sisters and Abel was born with one twin sister. They were, through God's mercy (because otherwise it violates the commandments against incest), allowed to marry their sisters in order to produce offspring.
One of the milder forms of creationism says exactly that - that beneath the apparent random chance of evolutionary development was a divine plan to eventually produce humanity - or at least some species intelligent enough to come to know its creator. Obviously this is faith, not science, since we are not able to see beneath the apparent randomness.
Actually, I heard one person propose that the Adam and Eve thing was a second creation, and so there were humans around already. It seemed an elegant way to account for the contradiction between the first Genesis creation story and the second.
For one thing, we still have the redefinition of science that has been placed on the books in Kansas.

Isn't Kansas also the state that tried to redefine the value of pi as simply being "3", because it says so in the Bible?

It amazes me that anyone gets out of that state's school system with their brain still functioning.
Actually, the incident you're thinking of took place in the Indiana state legislature in 1897. See http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_341.html and http://www.snopes.com/religion/pi.htm for more information, or pick up Petr Beckman's fascinating book, The History of Pi.
>>For another, the creationist activists (for that is what they are) will not go away.<<

If the Loud Right can claim there is such a thing as Judicial Activists, then I claim the right to use the term Educational Activists.

Did you see the Doonesbury cartoon about the two different treatment options depending on whether or not you believed in evolution? (That is, thus believed that a virus could evolve.)
The Doonesbury cartoon was great.

I loved the way Jones noted in his decision that his was not an activist court. And he's right, too. If you look back at his other decisions, they are based on precedent and legality. Rarely does he upset the applecart. Those who wish to claim him as an activist have no evidence to support their claim. But then again, they had no evidence for intelligent design either...
The folks who use the term "Activist Judge" like to claim that a new law is being made up out of whole cloth, or there's an interpretation without precedent(s). I was happy to see him include the precedents for his decision in the wording of the final ruling.


What really surprised me about the vote was that it was unanimous. When the voters "threw the bums out" news reports were clear that the ID ringleader, who pushed and bullied the rest of the board into approving the policy, was the only one of the lot NOT up for re-election. So he voted to rescind his own policy that he championed? CYA?

I thought he had been up for re-election as well. If he's still on the board, perhaps he just didn't vote.
After all, it is evolution in action. And they'd probably be chagrined to hear that.

Not to support ID as anything other than religious doctrine, but this one is easy. ID does not say the universe remains immutable. It says that the current state of life is so complicated that it must have been designed rather than emerged randomly. Of course life also evolves. Dynamism is built into the system.

Now I suppose we can have the Diest ID v. the non-Diest ID. Diest ID would hold that the Designer, after setting up a system with complex organisms that change over time, took off for greener pastures. non-Diest ID would hold that the Designer continues to exercise an influence over the changes. So penicillin-resistant bacteria is somehow part of the Designer's plan -- a feature not a bug.

It has become fashionable to make this reductio ad absurdum observation that life continues to evolve today, such as with penicillin resistant bacteria, so laugh at the silly ID believers. I find this as annoying as the wag who comes up to inform me that, you know, chickens don't lactate. "Gosh," I respond. "In the entire 2000 years since we decided not to mix bird flesh with milk, we never noticed that chickens don't lactate. Silly us."

If these folks were morons, it'd be safe to laugh at them. But they aren't.
I don't laugh at the ID believers. But it's one thing to believe that God created life. It's another thing to force one particular religious view into the science classes of public schools. As Jones pointed out in his decision, ID isn't anything but a new name for an old idea that had already been ruled inappropriate to teach as science. So what you describe as Deist ID is not in any way the theory that the proponents of ID have pushed forward. In fact, what your Deist ID describes is more like what relgious scientists believe -- that God created the world and set in motion, using evolution as the method by which life can be made more complex. But the key behind evolution being science is that God doesn't have to be invoked to explain the mechanism. Once you do that, you're not doing science anymore.

That's why the Kansas board's "redefinition" of science is so frightening. It's not science anymore if you define it to allow for supernatural explanations that can't be tested.

December 2016

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