Saturday, September 14, 2013

The significance of the Dover decision


Can someone kindly explain to me who died and made some federal judge in Pennsylvania the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not science?

Do people realize that if there hadn't been a personnel change on the Dover school board, the case would have gone up the court system, and there is some evidence that if it had made to the Supreme Court, some justices were likely to overturn the case?

Even if it were not overturned, while we need judges to make decisions like this sometimes, the way this decision is talked about by some people it almost seems to have metaphysical significance. Why?





36 comments:

Crude said...

Even if it were not overturned, while we need judges to make decisions like this sometimes, the way this decision is talked about by some people it almost seems to have metaphysical significance. Why?

When the government is basically seen as a deity, the actions of government pretty well may as well have metaphysical significance.

RD Miksa said...

And to me, another humorous (and very revealing) aspect of the Dover decision is that if the judge ruled the other way and if he decided that ID was indeed science, then it is a near certainty that the anti-ID crowd would be even more vociferous in arguing that a judge cannot decide what science is than the pro-ID crowd currently is.

Indeed, the only reason that the anti-IDers ever bring this judicial decision up is because it went their way, but it is a near guarantee that if it did not, then they would be the ones loudly arguing that judges are not qualified to decide what is and is not science.

And indeed, consider this question: If the ID issue went back to a higher court, and that higher court over-ruled the Dover decision and decided that ID actually was science, do you really think that the anti-IDers would suddenly admit that they were wrong and that ID actually is science after all? Not a chance, I say. Not a chance at all.

Take care,

RD Miksa

LadyAtheist said...

It's not that he decided what is and is not science, but what is and is not religion -- it was proved that ID is religiously-motivated therefore not appropriate for public school instruction according to the Constitution and case law precedent.

RD Miksa said...

Dear LadyAtheist,

Sadly, your facts are mistaken.

From the conclusion of the actual Dover Court decision:

"The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. IN MAKING THIS DETERMINATION, WE HAVE ADDRESSED THE SEMINAL QUESTION OF WHETHER ID IS SCIENCE. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT IT IS NOT, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

Notice that the court treated the issue of whether ID is science separately from the question of whether it is religiously motivated. So the court did indeed decide what is and is not science, and it decided that ID was not science.

Your claim, therefore, is indeed incorrect.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Link for my last source:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover_decision3.html#p294

Take care,

RD Miksa

Crude said...

RD Miksa,

Actually reading the full text of a court decision you're discussing? That's unfair, my friend. Dirty pool! :D

And to me, another humorous (and very revealing) aspect of the Dover decision is that if the judge ruled the other way and if he decided that ID was indeed science, then it is a near certainty that the anti-ID crowd would be even more vociferous in arguing that a judge cannot decide what science is than the pro-ID crowd currently is.

Indeed.

finney said...

The Constitution made the judge the arbiter of what is and is not science.

The determination whether Intelligent Design is scientifically motivated and/or is religiously motivated was necessary for the judge to determine whether the promotion of intelligent design in public schools establishes a religion in violation of the First Amendment.

finney said...

You may likewise complain why judges have the authority to define such things as "personhood", "human", "marriage".

The answer is that it's absolutely necessary. We could have our own socially-useful definitions of these things, but it's almost impossible to have any sort of law without having legal and judicial definitions about these matters as well.

As the Constitution brings religion into the foray of legislation, then the terms judges use to define religious exercise and education become paramount.

RD Miksa said...

Dear finney,

You said:

"The Constitution made the judge the arbiter of what is and is not science."

Well, seeing as I am not an American, then the Constitution does not apply to me. So I guess that means that in my home country, ID could be science, but the minute I enter the United States, it suddenly is not science. Because that makes a lot of sense in terms of coherent scientific practice.

But regardless, my main point is not with whether or not a judge was needed to decide whether ID was scientific or not, but rather with the fact that had the decision gone the other way, it is highly doubtful that a single anti-IDer would have ever accepted it. My point concerns the double-standard that would very likely exist with the anti-IDers had the Dover decision decided that ID was indeed science, not necessarily with the fact that a judge had to make a decision about the topic.

The two issues are separate.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Papalinton said...

Miksa, I highly doubt even in your country would ID be considered science, unless you live in the Vatican.

Victor
A touch of sour grapes in this OP, no? Playing the man [re: 'personnel change'] and not the ball [the court's decision based on 'overwhelming evidence'].

Crude said...

Victor,

Good job in posting this, by the way. It's nice to see people's opinions about the relevance of judicial decisions to science on record - since if the day comes where a court decides that a given ID or somesuch topic is science after all, even if just in a particular state, it'll be interesting to see if consistency is maintained. I mean, we know the answer, but nevertheless.

After all, this law doesn't seem to be getting struck down anytime soon. So we can ascertain that it's entirely scientific to teach according to those standards. Clearly.

Ilíon said...

VRL "Can someone kindly explain to me who died and made some federal judge in Pennsylvania the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not science?"

As I said in the other thread "Who died and made federal judges the ultimate arbiters of *anything* ... including the meaning of US Constitution, on the one hand, and the meaning of marriage, on the other? ..."

Either federal judges have the authority to act as our dictators, with competence over all areas of life, or they do not have the authority, nor the competence. Now, the fact is, they, and nearly everyone else, *act* as though they have this authority and competence, but do they, in fact, have it? And. if they do, then in what meaningful sense of the words is the US a constitutional republic?

Finney: "The Constitution made the judge the arbiter of what is and is not science."

In fact, the Constitution does no such thing.

Not only does the Constitution *not* give the federal courts dictatorial power over the rest of us, as they have been operating for as long as most of us have been alive, it doesn't even create "three co-equal branches of government" as the high-school civics class mythology would have it.

Rather, the Constitution establishes Congress as the paramount branch, the federal courts (all of them) as creatures of Congress, and the presidency as the executor of Congress’ acts, and sometime naysayer to Congress.

Finney: "You may likewise complain why judges have the authority to define such things as "personhood", "human", "marriage"."

As I said -- "Who died and made federal judges the ultimate arbiters of *anything* ... including the meaning of US Constitution, on the one hand, and the meaning of marriage, on the other? ..."

Either the judges shall be our servants, or we shall be lawyers’ slaves.

David B Marshall said...

I've often asked this questions as well. I can't say how many times some earnest ID-hating scientist has appealed to Judge Jones in the middle of a conversation about ID.

Personally, I don't want ID to be taught in school, though I also don't want to have to show an anti-Christian Dan Dennett propaganda flick, as I have done as a substitute teacher. Nor do I want my kids to be taught by crackpot "historians" that Christianity is evil, Mohammed is the true prophet of God, and all his works are good, as is done in my school district:

http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2013/09/history-alive-pro-muslim-anti-christian.html

But hey, it beats being thrown the lions or cast into the Gulag. (So far, anyway.) We can tell the kids the truth after class.

finney said...

Ilion,

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And the Supreme Court is created by the constitution, in part, to have appellate jurisdiction to say what the federal law, including the Constitution, means.

The structure of our system is, the Congress makes laws, president executes them through agencies, the Supreme Court has the sole and exclusive power to interpret them. See Marbury v. Madison.

The anti-Establishment clause means that no American government shall promote a particular religion.

The argument of the ID-ers was that, because it was science, it is not religion. The Court found its reasoning valid, but unsound. It was necessary to judge ID unscientific because the ID'ers made that the issue to begin with.

finney said...

"The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

SECTION 2.

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

finney said...

Ilion,

"...it doesn't even create "three co-equal branches of government" as the high-school civics class mythology would have it.

Rather, the Constitution establishes Congress as the paramount branch, the federal courts (all of them) as creatures of Congress, and the presidency as the executor of Congress’ acts, and sometime naysayer to Congress."

There are three fundamental governmental powers. Executive, legislative, and judicial. Art. III Section 1 vests the judicial power of the United States in one court, the Supreme Court.

Section II says "The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects."

The expression "separation of powers" is not an idea ever explicitly stated in the Constitution, but that is how the system works. The Legislature makes laws. The Executive regulates and executes them through its agencies. The Judiciary says what the law means in individual cases.

Ever since Marbury v. Madison was decided, the judiciary had the power to review the constitutionality of the decisions of the President and/or Senate/House.

So, yes, the Supreme Court is co-equal with the other branches. It is not subservient to them.

Ilíon said...

Finney, you forgot to quote the next part -- "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

Other than what the Constitution expressly prescribes, Congress has the authority to declare what is and is not within the jurisdiction of the supreme court and of the lesser federal courts.

"Ever since [lawyers arrogated unto themselves the power], the judiciary had the power to review the constitutionality of the decisions of the President and/or Senate/House."

There, fixed it for ya.

And will you look at this; here is the supreme court, in 1869 – significantly after the power grab of 1803 – affirming that grant it jurisdiction and revoke its jurisdiction Ex parte McArdle

So, yes, the Supreme Court is co-equal with the other branches. It is not subservient to them.

High-school civics class mythology remains mythology, no matter how many times you want to repeat it.

im-skeptical said...

It's important to remember that this court decision is strictly for the purpose of determining whether religious material, purported to be science, should be taught as science in the public schools. The decision in no way affects what science is or what scientists do.

What I don't understand is why religious people aren't satisfied teaching their own children all the religious material they want. They can send then to private schools, to catechism class, or whatever. Why do they insist on foisting this garbage on the rest of us? And why don't they understand that it's not much different from someone teaching Wicca or Islamic radicalism or to YOUR kids in school?

B. Prokop said...

"What I don't understand is why..."

The "why" is easy to understand. ID proponents do not consider it to be "religious material, purported to be science". Now even I, who do not regard ID as "science", can understand this. Are you telling us, Skep, that you genuinely do not understand, or are you using a rhetorical expression?

Understanding why someone thinks a certain way does not equate to agreeing with them, so there's no need to fear that by saying "I get where you're coming from" that you're surrendering your own views.

So... do you honestly not understand "why"?

im-skeptical said...

"Are you telling us, Skep, that you genuinely do not understand, or are you using a rhetorical expression?"

DI knows perfectly well what they are doing. It's their wedge strategy.

B. Prokop said...

So you're saying that you think ID proponents in their heart of hearts do not actually believe that ID is science? That they're putting on an act?

David B Marshall said...

Whereas I, who do not necessary believe ID is right, and don't think it should be taught in schools (or a lot of the left-wing or anti-Christian junk they actually DO teach there), am confident that the inference to design is scientific.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep:

You said:

“The decision in no way affects what science is or what scientists do.”

Wrong. From the conclusion of actual Dover Court decision (and as I posted above):

“The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. IN MAKING THIS DETERMINATION, WE HAVE ADDRESSED THE SEMINAL QUESTION OF WHETHER ID IS SCIENCE. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT IT IS NOT, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

So this decision does affect what science is, by clearly stating that—in the United States at least—ID is not science. Had the court decided that ID was science, then that would have affected science as well. Obviously, a decision that either includes or excludes something from being considered scientific does indeed affect “science” in some way, and so this court decision did exactly that.



You said:

“What I don't understand is why religious people aren't satisfied teaching their own children all the religious material they want. They can send then to private schools, to catechism class, or whatever. Why do they insist on foisting this garbage on the rest of us? And why don't they understand that it's not much different from someone teaching Wicca or Islamic radicalism or to YOUR kids in school?”

Seriously?! Did we not just see in the other discussion thread that ID as a hypothesis is utterly neutral from a religious perspective and that it is in no way like teaching Wicca or Islam? Indeed, as per the thought-experiment from earlier, if I suddenly stumbled upon the single celled organism that Craig Venter synthetically modified and observed the four watermarks that he left in its DNA, would I have suddenly made a religious discovery. Would pointing out those four watermarks to children and teaching them about how Craig Venter intelligently designed them into the strand of DNA be a religious act, akin to teaching the children about Islam? To ask this question is to answer it. In fact, I contend that since it is so easy to see that there is a clear and fundamental difference between teaching ID theory and teaching a religious doctrine like Islam, that therefore the only people who truly think that the teaching of ID is the same, in principle, as the teaching of religious doctrines are either dogmatic anti-ID ideologues, or intellectual half-wits, or plain ignoramuses.

Call me harsh if you will, but I am just following the evidence where it leads.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep:

You do understand that you need to differentiate the strict aspects and merits of a theory from the motives of its proponents? Right?

After all--and assuming you are right about the motives of IDers for the sake of argument--should neo-Darwinian evolution suddenly stop being seen as scientific because many of its most vocal proponents are hard-core atheists and naturalists who state that neo-Darwinian evolution is the greatest engine for atheistic and naturalistic belief ever devised, and who claim (falsely) that you cannot be a consistent Neo-Darwinist without being a naturalist, and who also self-admittedly promote and defend Neo-Darwinism to the greatest degree because they see it as a tool to use in the culture wars and a tool that they can use to try to beat down their religious opponents by calling them 'unscientific' for not bowing before the blind Watchmaker paradigm.

After all, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And as such, and in the interests of intellectual consistency, I hope you are as willing to discard the teaching of neo-Darwinian evolution due to motives of its adherents as you are with ID.

But somehow, I do not think that this is the case...

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

RD,

I'm sorry, but you really don't understand the court decision, just like you don't understand science (as you demonstrated in the other thread).

Look at the ruling again. "... the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause." Do you have any idea what the establishment clause is? Do you know what purpose it serves? It's about keeping the government (including public school boards) from establishing religion. It's part of our religious freedom. It means government can't favor any particular religion, including the teaching of some religion in public schools. It's up to you to take responsibility for teaching your own religion to your children, not up to the government to decide what religious teaching your child will receive. And that's a good thing.

Since ID was rued to be a violation of the establishment clause, it is clear that the court viewed it as religious in nature, and they were correct.

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep:

You said:

"I'm sorry, but you really don't understand the court decision,"

Ummm, OK, because it is really difficult to understand this:

"IN MAKING THIS DETERMINATION, WE HAVE ADDRESSED THE SEMINAL QUESTION OF WHETHER ID IS SCIENCE. WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT IT IS NOT..."

You do understand that just because the Court established that the Board's ID Policy violated the Establishment Clause does not mean that the Court did not simultaneously rule on whether ID was science or not, WHICH IT OBVIOUSLY DID GIVEN THE PLAIN LANGAUGE ABOVE STATING THAT IT DID.


You said:

"...just like you don't understand science (as you demonstrated in the other thread)."

Thanks Skep, with this comment, you have made my decision easy for me. My time is too precious to me to be spent in conversation with someone like you. Therefore, I brush the dust off my feet, so to speak, and I leave you be.

Thank you for the conversation, but this will be the last time that I interact with you.

Take care,

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

The courts are not the arbiter of what is science. It is within their purview to decide if something in the schools is religious teaching. If it's religious, it isn't science, it doesn't belong in the science curriculum, and it is a violation of the establishment clause. That's not hard to understand.

jdhuey said...

I think that the key question is not whether or not IDers believe that ID is science (they probably do) but whether or not IDers believe that ID is Creationism. While there may be some exceptions, I pretty sure vast majority of IDers are just Creationist, trying (and failing) to camouflage their religious beliefs to get it past School Boards and the Courts.

im-skeptical said...

jdhuey,

I have to agree. They are creationists, but they may be lying to themselves, convinced that ID is real science. I did my best to explain why it isn't, but I'm not a great communicator. But I also provided links to some views from the scientific community. I think the IDists just ignore all that, and go on thinking that ID is science. How can you convince them otherwise? It's like telling them their religion is false. They simply won't accept it.

I'm sorry to have offended RD. I get much worse than that every day. Didn't mean to curtail the discussion.

Victor Reppert said...

Arguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator.

im-skeptical said...

"Arguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator. "

I understand that it's not the same from a philosophical perspective. However, as a practical matter, it is the same. With very little exception, people who believe in a designer are the very same as those who believe in a creator. If you postulate that there could be a designer, you are, for all practical purposes, postulating a god. Even if you insist that it need not be god, you are setting yourself up for a regress. Who designed the designer?

Papalinton said...

if the christian god is not the designer then who is it and who's her/his name. Christians have no problem with instructing one and all who the creator of the universe is, definitively. So with that revelatory information in the bag, don't leave us scientistists in the dark. Cough up the name. I simply wish woo-meisters would come clean and stop this nonsense of playing the definitional game. It is rather tiresome when a supposedly intelligent person, a PhD recipient no less, posits such an asinine and oratorically pretentious spiel as, "Arguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator."

Spilling out such rubbish to children during their very early years with such absorptive and malleable minds might make such nonsense stick, but to lecture adults about differentiating the creator from the designer argument is simply obtuse and unclever.

It impresses no one.


Ilíon said...

VR: "Arguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator."

I believe that VR is addressing the posts immediate previous to his made by the fools 'jdhuey' and 'im-skeptical'.

I think he'd have done better to point out the logical fallacies (they have more than one fallacy in play) and intellectual hypocrisy (they drip/reek with it) of their posts.

On the one hand, while it is indeed true that "[a]rguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator", it is *also* true that in this context -- arguing for a designer in contradisatinction to the no-designer-at-all religious dogma of the Darwinists -- a designer who is not also the Creator is ultimately either pointless or incoherent, or both.

At the same time, it is *also* true that -- as a scientific purely question -- one can ignore the above ultimate truth, decoupling the concepts 'Creator' and 'designer' without generating scientific pointlessness or incoherency. This is because 'modern science' isn't even about truth, much less about ultimate truths. I expect that this is part of VR's point -- as the fools 'jdhuey' and 'im-skeptical' are pretending to Speak For Science, VR used a simple factual statement to point out that they're full of merde. So, looked at that way, perhaps VR was, intentionally or not, addressing their logical fallacies and intellectual dishonesty.

But, the thing is, these two fools, and all who (ahem) argue like them are hypocritically and anti-scientifically:
1) pretending to Speak For Science -- which is not, and cannot be, concerned with whether the designer must also be the Creator;
2) while making appeal to the ultimate truth spelled out above
so as to contend that detection of design in biology is not a scientific question.

im-skeptical said...

"On the one hand ... a designer who is not also the Creator is ultimately either pointless or incoherent, or both."

"At the same time ... as a scientific purely question -- one can ignore the above ultimate truth, decoupling the concepts 'Creator' and 'designer' without generating scientific pointlessness or incoherency."

A great ploy - we want to have our cake and eat it too. We all know exactly who this designer is, wink wink. But you who claim to speak for science - you aren't allowed to make any such presumption, because our Christian theory of ID says the designer could be anyone, wink wink.

And you call me a hypocrite!

RD Miksa said...

Dear Dr. V. Reppert,

You said:

"Arguing for the existence of a designer is not the same as arguing for the existence of a creator."

In support of this claim, it might be pointed out that it is at least possible to envisage some version of theism where both God and matter exist eternally, with God not being the creator of matter. And thus, in such a version of theism, God would indeed only be the designer of this matter, not the creator of it.

So, all this to say, your point is absolutely correct: "Arguing for a designer is not necessarily the same as arguing for a creator."

Take care,

RD Miksa