Dec. 21, 2005

Will Creationism evolve (again)?

Good news on the evolution/creationism news front yesterday: the Federal judge ruling on a Dover, PA school board's promotion of "intelligent design" has been direct and forceful. ID is an attempt to disguise and teach the religious belief in creationism, and promoting religion in US public schools is constitutionally banned.

Darwin, a religious man who wrestled with the implications of his discoveries but realised that the facts could not be ignored, would be proud. Here's a quote from his journals: The old argument of design in nature, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man... Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.

Here's my favourite quote from the ruling (emphasis mine): 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.

Regarding the motivation of the school board members (all turfed from office in elections held before the case came to trial) the judge said one unfortunate theme in this case is the striking ignorance concerning the concept of ID amongst Board members. He also said It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

Regarding the "scientific" merits of Intelligent Design, here again is the ruling:

(1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation;
(2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and
(3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community."
George Bush, who is either woolly-headed enough to believe in ID or just courts its supporters, must be kicking himself for having appointed US District Court Judge John E. Jones III. Here is some coverage of the issue: The New York Times' report on the verdict, Judge Jones's actual ruling (a PDF file), The New Yorker's coverage of the trial, the PBS television series Evolution. (Oh my God, the links are all to atheistic east coast intellectuals! Here's the Discovery Institute's press release for "balance".)

Listening to: I'm Looking Through You by The Wallflowers from i am sam.

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