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December 21, 2005

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Dover Intelligent Design Decision, Part I: Of Motive, Effect, and History:

» Boy, they *really* don't get it from The Panda's Thumb
Ive got about 30 minutes to kill, so I might as well give some general thoughts on the IDists reactions to the cataclysmic Dover decision.... [Read More]

» Supernatural Causation and the Argument that ID is not a Science from Daily Phil
In his “Dovers Darwinist Judge Rules Against Competing Theory of Intelligent Design,” Jonathan Witt, a fellow at the Center for Science and Culture, the think tank that has become the intellectual center of the current Intelligent Design (h... [Read More]

» More Reactions to the Dover Decision on Intelligent Design (with special attention to the unfortunate intervention by Professor Alschuler) from Leiter Reports
This blog has a rather lengthy compendium of links pertaining to yesterday's court decision. The New York Times, meanwhile, has run a pleasingly direct editorial:Judge Jones's decision was a striking repudiation of intelligent design, given that Dover'... [Read More]

» The Court's Contempt from Cross-Currents
Prof. Albert Alschuler of the University of Chicago is blogging his reactions to the ID decision (as noted by Michael Hobson). Most of the Dover opinion says in effect to the proponents of intelligent design, “We know who you are. You’re Bible-thump... [Read More]

» "The Forbidden Preference" from Discriminations.us
Albert Alschuler, a highly regarded law professor at the University of Chicago, is no radicalrightchristian, but he is very critical of Judge Jones's opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which threw Intelligent Design out of the Dover, ... [Read More]

» "The Forbidden Preference" from Discriminations.us
Albert Alschuler, a highly regarded law professor at the University of Chicago, is no radicalrightchristian, but he is very critical of Judge Jones's opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which threw Intelligent Design out of the Dover, ... [Read More]

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maurile

[Note: I tried to use either the blockquote or italic HTML tags to indicate Professor Alschuler's quoted words, but neither worked in the "Preview" display. So I am just using quotation marks.]

"The first amendment makes intelligent design unmentionable in the classroom."

This was not the court's holding, and it was not the plaintiffs' argument.

Many science teachers will continue to mention ID in the classroom.

The court held that the specific policy in Dover mandating that teachers read a religiously motivated and factually misleading statement to their students is unconstitutional.

"When the Fundamentalists (the court often capitalizes the word) found themselves unable to ban Darwinism, they championed “balanced treatment,” then “creation science,” and finally “intelligent design.” According to the court, the agenda never changed."

The specific textbook that the Dover policy encouraged students to seek out for more information about ID is in fact a creationist textbook. As is detailed in Judge Jones's opinion, the words "creationism" and its variants were simply replaced in post-Edwards drafts with the words "intelligent design," but the content was exactly the same. The same factual errors. The same references to the supernatural (which is outside the proper domain of science).

"Does that make any mention of intelligent design unconstitutional?"

Again, no it doesn't, and neither the Court nor the plaintiffs' argued otherwise.

"It seems odd to characterize the desire to go far as the law allows as an unlawful motive."

Going as far as the law allows would have been fine. Going beyond that was not.

"The Dover opinion appears to say that the forbidden preference taints whatever the board may do, and if the public can discern the board’s improper desire, any action it takes also has an unconstitutional effect."

The district court is bound by Lemon, as both the plaintiffs and the defendants agreed. Under Lemon, desire (i.e., purpose) matters. That may be a poor test, but it's not the district court's fault.

In any event, the Dover policy was unconstitutional under the effects prong as well as under the purpose prong, so the same result would have obtained if purpose had been ignored.

Also:

"[ID proponents] uniformly . . . focus only on where the biological evidence leads."

This is a disputed fact and there is much evidence against it.

Professor Behe, for example, was drilled on cross-examination for being unfamiliar with the biological evidence he had rejected.

Albert Alschuler

Reply to maurile: Pandas and People, the text the Dover board suggested to students but never assigned, is a thinly disguised creationist text, just as the court concluded. I have no problem with the decision insofar as it holds that officially recommending this text is unconstitutional. But the opinion is full of pronouncements that go far beyond the specifics of the Dover case. For example: "An objective observer would know that ID and teaching about 'gaps' and 'problems' in evolutionary theory are creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism." In Dover, moreover, the board may not direct teachers even to mention intelligent design. I quoted part of the relevant language in the first sentence of my post: "we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from . . . requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID."

The Law Fairy

maurile --

It's interesting that you reject anything referencing the "supernatural" as unscientific. This begs two questions:

1. How do you define supernatural? If God in fact exists, is he or she necessarily "supernatural"? Does this mean that God exists on a plane that is not a part of "nature"? Does this mean that human science, along with its attendant admittedly imperfect understanding of the laws of nature and physics, holds a monopoly on the world of "nature"? What does this suggest about principles attempting to reconcile what we think we know with what we clearly don't know (e.g., Einstein's Theory of Relativity) -- does this mean those theories are "unnatural" and therefore "supernatural" and shouldn't be mandated in the classroom?

2. If something is unscientific, does this make it religious? And if something is religious, does this make it unscientific? If so, it seems we have an irreconcilable tension given the effects prong of the Lemon test: a decision or policy either way will have the effect of helping science and thus hurting religion, or of helping religion and thus hurting science. Don't forget that the First Amendment and Establishment Clause provisions are meant to PROTECT the free exercise of religion -- should courts be in the business, then, of deciding who wins the science vs. religion war?

BL

This strikes me as an extraordinarily ignorant intervention in an ongoing debate that will affect what innocent schoolchildren will learn. Al, do you know anything about the actual scientific status of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection? Do you know anything about the theory of Intelligent Design? If so, then you must presumably know that there is no secular purpose or explanation for teaching Intelligent Design in a high school biology class. Isn't that the central issue in this case? Isn't that why the court was correct to turn to an (accurate) historical explanation for why this nonsense is being served up as a serious competitor to one of the great triumphs of science in the last 200 years?

Psychoanalysis requires decoding real motives through a layer of hidden meanings. There are no layers of hidden meaning here. The meanings are on the surface, unless one is ignorant of the underlying scientific and philosophical issues. In that case, I suppose there could be some uncertainty about what the Dover Board's purpose really was.

maurile

Reply to Albert Alschuler: When the court says that "ID" is a "religious strategy," I think it's clear that the Court was referring specifically to the version of ID being pushed by Of Pandas and People.

It is possible to formulate a version of ID that is purely scientific (i.e., a testable, falsifiable theory) -- but none of the people associated with the current ID movement have done so, and that kind of hypothetical version of ID really wasn't at issue in Kitzmiller.

If the court didn't mean to restrict its ruling to the version of ID relevant to Kitzmiller, but meant to pronounce that all possible forms of ID are inherently religious, then the Court overstepped its bounds. That's not how I interpret its decision, however.

Also, while the Court did hold that the board may not require teachers to mention ID, that is quite different from holding that teachers may not mention ID (which is what it sounded like you were saying in your blog entry).

Teachers are still free to discuss ID, and many of them do. ID is a perfect topic, for example, to use in illustrating what qualifies as science, what does not, and why.

maurile

Reply to The Law Fairy:

1. "How do you define supernatural?" I don't. I tend not to use the term, and every definition I've seen by others is self-contradictory. I used the term in my first comment only because it was used in Of Pandas and People. But see below for what I think Of Pandas and People meant by it, and why what it meant is unscientific.

"If God in fact exists, is he or she necessarily 'supernatural'?" No. I'd define nature as encompassing everything that exists. So if God exists, he's natural.

I don't understand the rest of your questions under heading #1.

2. "If something is unscientific, does this make it religious? And if something is religious, does this make it unscientific?" No. Neither.

What makes an idea scientific is the ability to test its predictions empirically.

Traditional statements about God are untestable because "that's what God wanted to happen" can explain any possible observation. There's no observation or experimental result that could possibly falsify the God idea.

If a bunch of people pray for Eric and he dies anyway, well, maybe that's what God wanted to happen. All results can be explained that way.

Such thinking is impossible to incorporate into the scientific method. And it is this kind of thinking -- the kind that is off limits to empirical falsification -- that I think Of Pandas and People meant when they used the term "supernatural."

dopderbeck

I think Prof. Alschuler's analysis is right on. I've posted some similar comments on my site here: http://www.davidopderbeck.com/archives/2005/12/dover_id_decisi.html

PantsB

"They uniformly disclaim reliance on the Book and focus only on where the biological evidence leads."

How can you make such a plainly unsupported statement and not expect to be called on it? For instance, from the decision:
Second, Buckingham’s wife, Charlotte, gave a speech that exceeded the normal time
protocols during the public comment section in which she explained that “evolution teaches nothing but lies,” quoted from Genesis, asked “how can we allow anything else to be taught in our schools,” recited gospel verses telling people to become born again Christians, and stated that evolution violated the teachings of the Bible. ...
During this religious speech at a public Board meeting, Board members Buckingham and Geesey said “amen.” Third, Buckingham stood by his opposition to the 2002 edition of the textbook entitled Biology. Fourth, Bonsell and Wenrich said they agreed with Buckingham that creationism should be taught to balance evolution. Fifth,
Buckingham made several outwardly religious statements, which include the following remarks. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state.” He explained that this country was founded on Christianity. Buckingham concedes that he said “I challenge you (the audience) to trace your roots to the monkey you came from.” He said that while growing up, his generation read from the Bible and prayed during school. He further said “liberals in black robes” were “taking away the rights of Christians” and he said words to the effect of “2,000 years ago someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?”
>>>>>>>>>>>

Also, who cares if they are "good people." As you concede, that intended to put forth a religiously based curriculum when you said:
"The court offers convincing evidence that some members the Dover school board would have been delighted to promote their old time religion in the classroom. These board members apparently accepted intelligent design as a compromise, the nearest they could come to their objective within the law.

Their actions, this "compromise", was attempting to teach a concept in order to endorse a religious viewpoint. This is a religious motivation and not a secular one. This was not determined by 'psychoanalysis' but by numerous witnesses who testified to repeated lies under oath by the decision makers regarding their connection and the decision's connection to religious groups.

A motivation to teach religious views guised as science clearly violates the endorsement clause. Attempting to justify otherwise is a futile attempt in double think.

GeneMBridges

"A motivation to teach religious views guised as science clearly violates the endorsement clause. Attempting to justify otherwise is a futile attempt in double think."

a. So, when David Liu at Harvard announced that he would prove that God does not exist in his latest research project, we don't have a philosophical worldview that is double think and unjustifiable? If not, then that is a double standard on the part of the materialist, isn't it? What about Carl Sagan saying, "The cosmos is all that there is, all that there was, and all that there ever shall be" as an axiom. Is this a "scientific" statement? Examples could be added ad infinitum.

Philosophical naturalism, the denial that there is any God or intelligent being outside the physical universe, is not part of the scientific theory of biological evolution (or any science for that matter) but it is often smuggled into the presentation of scientific theory by the at least implicit suggestion that evolution *alone* is responsible for the emergence of complex life forms or that an intelligent being was *not* involved in the process. ID takes aim at this insidious attempt to pass off fundamental philosophical or worldview commitments as part of scientific theorizing rather than the framework in which such theorizing is situated.

b. I noticed you referred to school board members. The blog article refers to those who champion ID which I believe refers to Behe, Dembski, Flew, and others.

c. The statement you are "calling" refers to the definiton of fundamentalism as believing the Bible is literally true. Antony Flew believes in ID, he is a deist, not a Christian. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and agnostics who are among the 400 or so who support ID openly in the scientific community. A few days ago, I understand some representatives of Orthodox Judaism signed onto it. If ID violates the establishment clause, which religion is being established? Not all of the are theistic. In fact, some of these are pantheistic and panentheistic, and there are deists and agnostics.

d. Some believe the Big Bang theory has religious implications? Should we no longer teach it if theistic evolutionists decide to take up the cause of ID?

e. How is atheistic naturalism not a competing worldview or in some sense religious as well? On what basis can you say that naturalism is not also foisting a religious agenda of some sort in the schools? It's awfully convenient to limit all worldviews that do not presuppose philosophical naturalism but give the one that does presuppose it unlimited sway.

e. By your own yardstick, we can now discount the testimony of Barabara Forrest, a vocal atheist critic who testified in , since she has engaged in similar shenanigans for the other side of the aisle. Its also worth noting, in her testimony, she noted that a key sign of creationism was a rejection of specifically Darwinian evolution. ID maintains that *certain* features of the universe in general and living beings in particular cannot *adequately* be explained by unguided natural processes, the processes that are constitutive of traditional scientific models of biological evolution, but these features can be adequately explained by postulating an intelligent designer. This is clearly *not* a denial that biological evolution has played a role in the production of complex life forms, including humans. ID is challenging the idea that *all* features of living beings can be *adequately* explained by mechanistic or unintelligent causes. ID is challenging the *completeness* of current scientific models of the origin of life. ID is not creationism. Although every creationist advocates ID, not every ID advocate is a creationist.

g. To say that the philosophers and scientists who are ID advocates are pushing ideas based on faith and not a scintilla of evidence is both uncharitable and patently absurd. It is *itself* an ungrounded and uninformed assertion that, whether intended or not, evades the intellectual responsibility of engaging the arguments presented by ID advocates. You may think that these arguments are weak. Fine. But then the claim should be that the arguments of those individuals are weak, not unjustifiable. The challenge would be to critique the arguments, not attempt to bring ID down by establishing some sort of guilt by association with creationism through discussing the comments of a board of education composed of lay persons who are not, themselves, the ones presenting the theories in journals, et.al.

GeneMBridges

"A motivation to teach religious views guised as science clearly violates the endorsement clause. Attempting to justify otherwise is a futile attempt in double think."

a. So, when David Liu at Harvard announced that he would prove that God does not exist in his latest research project, we don't have a philosophical worldview that is double think and unjustifiable? If not, then that is a double standard on the part of the materialist, isn't it? What about Carl Sagan saying, "The cosmos is all that there is, all that there was, and all that there ever shall be" as an axiom. Is this a "scientific" statement? Examples could be added ad infinitum.

Philosophical naturalism, the denial that there is any God or intelligent being outside the physical universe, is not part of the scientific theory of biological evolution (or any science for that matter) but it is often smuggled into the presentation of scientific theory by the at least implicit suggestion that evolution *alone* is responsible for the emergence of complex life forms or that an intelligent being was *not* involved in the process. ID takes aim at this insidious attempt to pass off fundamental philosophical or worldview commitments as part of scientific theorizing rather than the framework in which such theorizing is situated.

b. I noticed you referred to school board members. The blog article refers to those who champion ID which I believe refers to Behe, Dembski, Flew, and others.

c. The statement you are "calling" refers to the definiton of fundamentalism as believing the Bible is literally true. Antony Flew believes in ID, he is a deist, not a Christian. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and agnostics who are among the 400 or so who support ID openly in the scientific community. A few days ago, I understand some representatives of Orthodox Judaism signed onto it. If ID violates the establishment clause, which religion is being established? Not all of the are theistic. In fact, some of these are pantheistic and panentheistic, and there are deists and agnostics.

d. Some believe the Big Bang theory has religious implications? Should we no longer teach it if theistic evolutionists decide to take up the cause of ID?

e. How is atheistic naturalism not a competing worldview or in some sense religious as well? On what basis can you say that naturalism is not also foisting a religious agenda of some sort in the schools? It's awfully convenient to limit all worldviews that do not presuppose philosophical naturalism but give the one that does presuppose it unlimited sway.

e. By your own yardstick, we can now discount the testimony of Barabara Forrest, a vocal atheist critic who testified in , since she has engaged in similar shenanigans for the other side of the aisle. Its also worth noting, in her testimony, she noted that a key sign of creationism was a rejection of specifically Darwinian evolution. ID maintains that *certain* features of the universe in general and living beings in particular cannot *adequately* be explained by unguided natural processes, the processes that are constitutive of traditional scientific models of biological evolution, but these features can be adequately explained by postulating an intelligent designer. This is clearly *not* a denial that biological evolution has played a role in the production of complex life forms, including humans. ID is challenging the idea that *all* features of living beings can be *adequately* explained by mechanistic or unintelligent causes. ID is challenging the *completeness* of current scientific models of the origin of life. ID is not creationism. Although every creationist advocates ID, not every ID advocate is a creationist.

g. To say that the philosophers and scientists who are ID advocates are pushing ideas based on faith and not a scintilla of evidence is both uncharitable and patently absurd. It is *itself* an ungrounded and uninformed assertion that, whether intended or not, evades the intellectual responsibility of engaging the arguments presented by ID advocates. You may think that these arguments are weak. Fine. But then the claim should be that the arguments of those individuals are weak, not unjustifiable. The challenge would be to critique the arguments, not attempt to bring ID down by establishing some sort of guilt by association with creationism through discussing the comments of a board of education composed of lay persons who are not, themselves, the ones presenting the theories in journals, et.al.

Paul

Hmm. Looks like you're getting hit from both sides, here. It's always a lively debate. Thanks for your commentary anyway.

Geoff

What you are talking about is called the genetic logical fallacy.

Douglas J. Bender

maurile said:

"What makes an idea scientific is the ability to test its predictions empirically."

Thus, Evolution is non-scientific. At least, the commonly held "Common Ancestor" variety (i.e., "macroevolution"). Or, can you point me to any real-world "scientific and EMPIRICAL tests" of "its predictions"?

gmlk

It seems to me that the main problem the judge had with ID was the requirement and allowance for a supernatural intelligent causation (e.g. the Designer).

Assuming that "life" is not supernatural (e.g. we're not breaking any natural laws by being alive), then designing and causing life should not require supernatural powers. So there is no need for a designer to be supernatural, is there?

A version of ID which does not claim any supernatural causation, but only an intelligent causation should be seen as equally a science then for example forensic science is seen.

Joe

GMLK, it seems that by your characterization of "supernatural," *nothing* qualifies as supernatural. If even a deity is not supernatural, then what is? And if nothing is supernatural, then why use the signifier "natural" when you've conflated its signified with that of "supernatural?"

Joe

Also, it seems likely that in a state of pre-existence, nature itself does not exist. It therefore seems silly (impossible?) to claim that the creator (excuse me, your "intelligent designer") created existence out of nothingness without the use of supernatural abilities/powers.

ADR

One does not need to be a fan of intelligent design to believe that the ruling in this case was shockingly gratutious and uncivil. Foes of ID are better off persuading their opponents through discourse rather than litigation. If ID is now a "religious theory" then is a law banning ID would now an unconstitutional violation of the freedom of religion clause? This is one area the courts ought to stay out of.

Joe

ADR, isn't it unconstitutional for religion to be taught (as science, even!) in public schools? And if that's the case, how can you say that the courts should simply "stay out of it?"

Additionally, I wonder how about your assertion, "Foes of ID are better off persuading their oppents through discourse rather than litigation." Why and how would they be better off this way? ID is a religious belief which does not belong in a high school biology course, unless the purpose of said course is to teach students how *not* to think scientifically.

UChicago Law

Editor's Note: We have removed a colorful trackback that was recently posted here. The substance of the trackback was to criticize another commenter for being unnecessarily rude. Ironically, the trackback was itself somewhat over the top, and so we have removed it.

tnadelhoffer

Douglas Bender states:

"Thus, Evolution is non-scientific. At least, the commonly held "Common Ancestor" variety (i.e., "macroevolution"). Or, can you point me to any real-world "scientific and EMPIRICAL tests" of "its predictions"?"

You seem to assume that the hallmark of an empirical theory is that it is empirically verifiable--which is partially correct. However, at least since Karl Popper, philosophers of science have noted that empirical falsifiability is perhaps an even more essential feature of empirical theories. And for a hypothesis or theory x to be falsifiable, the proponent of x need only be able to specify what observational evidence would, in principle, disprove x. It is painfully obvious that evolution (whether it be macro or micro) is falsifiable in this respect. So, what evidence would, in principle, speak against macroevolution? Discoveries of fossils that are out of place--e.g., fossils of bunny rabbits that date to the Pre-Cambrian (I forgot who originally gave this example--but I think it was Gould). Or perhaps fossils of humans that predate fossils of dinosaurs. The possibilities for refutation are endless. So, perhaps opponents of "evilution" should spend more time conducting field work (digs, excavations, etc.) and less time forcing tax payers to beat back juvenile attempts to redefine science in a way that makes room for creationism to count. Minimally, it is clear that you cannot falsify a scientific theory purely from the arm-chair (e.g., by simply redefining science in a way that suits one's needs). Refutation in science requires us to get our hands dirty. Simply waving a proposed revisionary dictionary definition of science at evolution will not do the trick.

Overall, I think Mr. Bender's comment--which is lamentably widely shared I am afraid--is fueled by a lack of understanding concerning some of the basic principles of scientific methodology and the philosophy of science. But luckily it's an intellectual shortcoming that a good introductory text to the philosophy of science would cure.

maurile

Douglas J. Bender wrote: "Thus, Evolution is non-scientific. At least, the commonly held 'Common Ancestor' variety (i.e., 'macroevolution'). Or, can you point me to any real-world 'scientific and EMPIRICAL tests' of 'its predictions'?"

tnadelhoffer already answered this. (It was J.B.S. Haldane who said "fossil rabbits in the precambrian.")

I'll add a plug for the article "29 Evidences for Macroevolution" at talkorigins.com that describes all kinds of ways in which evolutionary theory is testable. (I'd link to it, but apparently HTML tags don't work in these comments. It's easy to Google for, though.)

This is not a matter of genuine dispute.

tnadelhoffer

I should have also pointed out that creationism and ID (unlike evolution) are NOT falsifiable--even in principle. After all, proponents of these views cannot specificy what would count as evidence against their view. Until they make such a specification, they can neither justifiably don the mantle of science, nor can they expect to have their beliefs peddled to school children as if these beliefs are legimitately scientific.

The Law Fairy

What about Big Bang theories? Are those falsifiable? Any theory that posits to expllain the origin of matter seems to me quite difficult to prove or disprove -- yet the Big Bang is the favored explanation for the origin of existence.

John Timmer

"What about Big Bang theories? Are those falsifiable?"

Yes. Attempts so far to falsify the theory have failed, though. Cosmic background radiation exists, and variations in that radiation are consistent with the current structure of the universe.

Also, for Douglas Bender, see the Dover trial testimony of Kenneth Miller, who discusses extensive genomic evidence for the common descent of humans and chimps.

Tyrannosaurus

Following the logic of the initial argument then if I can say that Darwinists are not because now they relabelled themselves Evolutionists (if that exists since evolutionary scientist are not cult members).
Please stay from rehashing the old and tired arguments from creationism and for once in your life be honest and ethical and preach for religion openly. Do not hide your affiliations and be proud to be called Christians. Onward Christian men !!!!!!!

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