Thursday, July 23, 2015

Something I don't understand about the Kitzmiller decision

As I understand it, central to the argument in Kitzmiller was the claim that Of Pandas and People started out as a straightforwardly creationist textbook, and then was altered in response to Edwards v. Aguillard. But Edwards said that even though you can't teach creationism, you do some other things.




We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. . . . Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.



OK, so the court says "You can't teach out and out creationism, but you can do this," so someone alters a creationist text in order to do just this, and then Kitzmiller says that it's wrong to do "just this."



This I don't understand.



27 comments:

Ilíon said...

It's not all that hard to understand -- DarwinDefenders, like leftists, are liars.

Also, like leftists, they can't rationally defend their metaphysics disguised as 'Science!', so they have to rely upon coercion.

Crude said...

As should have been made abundantly clear by the SCOTUS decisions recently: whatever way they have to reason to strike down they dislike, they will.

John Moore said...

It's a matter of trust. If you try to teach creationism and get caught, and then if you just tidy up the creationist textbook to remove references to God, that looks like too thin a disguise. The court wasn't going to trust the ID people to stick to science. There are too many occasions where ID people have tried to sneak in creationism. So it's a matter of trust.

Crude said...

The court wasn't going to trust the ID people to stick to science. There are too many occasions where ID people have tried to sneak in creationism.

John, leave the secular apologetics to others. Saying 'It's okay to rule against people who followed the law, because you've decided you don't trust them - as if 'YEC people' and 'ID people' are the same to begin with - is pathetic.

John Moore said...

It's what I said on the earlier post - the linked article never addresses the question of whether ID is just creationism in disguise. If nobody provides an argument to the contrary, then you can't blame people for thinking it's true.

Victor Reppert said...

But I don't know if anybody was got caught teaching creationism. The people who wrote the Louisiana law intended for creationism to be taught.

The school board at Dover mentioned the Pandas book as a source for getting information about ID. From what I could tell all they were doing was putting a warning label on an evolution text telling where you could get info on ID. Were they actually going to teach from that book?

DougJC said...

Well, Kitzmiller seems unique in that the ID proposed was understood by the Board Members to be a religious view, but pushed instead as science. If, in the future, we have Board Members that understand ID, honestly see ID as distinct from creationism and absent a necessary religious component, we might actually see it in schools. However, the key word is "honestly"; after Kitzmiller it is much harder to believe that anyone who pushes ID is free of ulterior religious motive.

Notes from Kizmiller from here show how the Board effectively undermined the ID position:


Despite this collective failure to understand the concept of ID, which six Board members nonetheless felt was appropriate to add to ninth grade biology class to improve science education, the Board never heard from any person or organization with scientific expertise about the curriculum change, save for consistent but unwelcome advices from the District’s science teachers who uniformly opposed the change. (29:109 (Buckingham)). In disregarding the teachers’ views, the Board ignored undeviating opposition to the curriculum change by the one resource with scientific expertise immediately at its disposal. The only outside organizations which the Board consulted prior to the vote were the Discovery Institute and TMLC, and it is clear that the purpose of these contacts was to obtain legal advice, as opposed to science education information. (33:111- 12 (Bonsell); 29:130, 137-43, 30:10-14 (Buckingham)). The Board received no materials, other than Pandas, to assist them in making their vote. Nor did anyone on the Board or in the administration ever contact the NAS, the AAAS, the National Science Teachers’ Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, or any other organization for information about ID or science education before or after voting for the curriculum change. (33:113 (Bonsell); 30:24-27 (Buckingham)). While there is no requirement that a school board contact any of the afore-referenced organizations prior to enacting a curriculum change, in this case a simple glance at any one of their websites for additional information about ID and any potential it may have to improve science education would have provided helpful information to Board members who admittedly had no comprehension whatsoever of ID. As Dr. Alters’ expert testimony demonstrated, all of these organizations have information about teaching evolution readily available on the internet and they include statements opposing the teaching of ID. (14:74-99 (Alters)).



...
We initially note that the Supreme Court has instructed that while courts are “normally deferential to a State’s articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham.” Edwards, 482 U.S. at 586-87 (citing Wallace, 472 U.S. at 64)(Powell, J., concurring); id. at 75 (O’Connor, J., concurring in judgment).

Victor Reppert said...

From what I understand from talking to Jay Richards, the Discovery Institute wasn't in favor of pushing the case given the way in which the Board expressed their religious purpose.

But this still raises another kind of problem. One could argue, it seems to me, that a secularist purpose is not a secular purpose. So if one were to teach evolution in a way that was designed to undermine religious belief, it seems to me that THAT would violate the establishment clause as much as teaching ID with religious motives.

DougJC said...

Victor,

"One could argue, it seems to me, that a secularist purpose is not a secular purpose. So if one were to teach evolution in a way that was designed to undermine religious belief, it seems to me that THAT would violate the establishment clause as much as teaching ID with religious motives."

Agreed, an ulterior motive to undermine religious belief is just as bad. Deciding for children which beliefs are morally best for them and manipulating the information to enable those beliefs is not what we want educators to do.

Crude said...

John,

It's what I said on the earlier post - the linked article never addresses the question of whether ID is just creationism in disguise

'Just creationism in disguise' is bollocks, for reasons Victor - only the most recent to do so - has pointed out. ID did exactly what others said it would be fair to do, yet when it's done, out it's thrown.

Doug,

However, the key word is "honestly"; after Kitzmiller it is much harder to believe that anyone who pushes ID is free of ulterior religious motive.

And I can name you numerous atheists who talk about how evolution is a great recruiting tool for atheism, and who pack it with metaphysical speculation that science can't possibly comment on. If ulterior motives undermine the legitimacy of teaching a theory, evolution goes down faster than ID.

But the standard was supposed to be that, motives aside, the content was what mattered - and the content, here, was scrubbed free of creationism.

DougJC said...

Crude,

"And I can name you numerous atheists who talk about how evolution is a great recruiting tool for atheism, and who pack it with metaphysical speculation that science can't possibly comment on. If ulterior motives undermine the legitimacy of teaching a theory, evolution goes down faster than ID."

And I am just as concerned that teaching evolution as a recruiting tool for atheism would downplay legitimate data, downplay certain areas of uncertainty and basically present an incomplete and misleading picture. Educators (along with scientists) should be expected to be superbly trained at leaving personal philosophies at the door of the classroom.

"But the standard was supposed to be that, motives aside, the content was what mattered - and the content, here, was scrubbed free of creationism."

The Kitzmiller opinion specifically said that motives did matter because (per above) "the Supreme Court has instructed that while courts are “normally deferential to a State’s articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham.”". This seems to have diverted the issue away entirely from content.

Crude said...

Doug,

Educators (along with scientists) should be expected to be superbly trained at leaving personal philosophies at the door of the classroom.

They're not, and the idea that scientists are particularly good at this is itself a joke.

The Kitzmiller opinion specifically said that motives did matter because (per above) "the Supreme Court has instructed that while courts are “normally deferential to a State’s articulation of a secular purpose, it is required that the statement of such purpose be sincere and not a sham.”"

The very idea of a 'secular purpose' is itself rife with problems, and putting that aside - that is sufficient to undermine any and all talk of evolution in the classroom. If speculation about motive is capable of overruling the position regardless of the actual content present, then no talk about evolution (and that's just to begin with) is possible fairly - the history of its use and framing it teaching as a way to encourage and promote atheism is tremendous and obvious, which makes any claim of unbiased teaching suspect. If question of motive is put aside and materials themselves are simply studied, then Kitzmiller and anything like it would pass, since it technically skirts every problem previously raised.

What this is coming down to is that it's been decided that any positive talk of the inference of a creator or designer is considered loaded and verboten, but any negative talk or implied teaching that there was no creator or designer at work is accepted. It's a sham, and it's obvious.

David Brightly said...

'Secular purpose', 'teaching bias', 'ulterior motive', etc, endlessly fascinating to the legal mind no doubt, but utterly irrelevant. For consider the fate of Lynn Margulis's non-Darwinian theory of 'symbiogenesis'. After two or more decades and considerable initial opposition Margulis's theory has entered the mainstream of biology. Yet the 2014 Cambridge International A-level Biology Coursebook gives her just a half page call-out (here) and a paragraph or two in a 500-odd page textbook. The lesson to be taken from this is that when ID theory finally achieves the same level of penetration as Margulis's it will merit all of a half page box. So, chin up, IDers, drop the lawyers, and like Margulis and those she convinced, do the groundwork and appeal to the court of biology.

Victor Reppert said...

Indeed, I don't like the attempt to put something into the public schools without more approval from the scientific community.

But the Kitzmiller case was a legal case.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Indeed, I don't like the attempt to put something into the public schools without more approval from the scientific community."

Why?

Does "the scientific community" have some special bead on The Truth? And, if if does, how can that be, considering that 'science' can't even determine small-T truths?

Rhetorical Question: When are (you) people going to free your minds of this idolatry of 'Science!' (which is really just idolatry of a sub0set of people considered to be scientists)? One of the amusing things about this idolatry is that this worship 'Science!' is justified by an appeal to the successes of technology, which is quite a different thing from science, much less from 'Science!'.

Vox Day links to an amusing demotivational poster, which perfectly captures Atheist Locic with respect to Darwinism (i.e. the origins myth of atheism). Something similar could be said about 'Science!' worshippers -- "You can trust that scientists will always tell you The Truth. Because engineers build amazingly sturdy bridges."

Ilíon said...

Your friendly neighborhood disingenuous atheist: "It's what I said on the earlier post - the linked article never addresses the question of whether ID is just creationism in disguise. If nobody provides an argument to the contrary, then you can't blame people for thinking it's true."

First, let's briefly consider the last sentence: "If nobody provides an argument to the contrary, then you can't blame people for thinking it's true."

In other words, if lying radical DarwinDefenders make a false, lying accusation about their opponents, then it's not up to them to prove that the accusation is true; rather, it's up to someone else to prove that the accusation is false -- with the DarwinDefenders being the ones who get to decide whether the proof was successful.

How like a practitioner of DarLogic (tm)!

Your friendly neighborhood disingenuous DarwinDefender: "It's what I said on the earlier post - the linked article never addresses the question of whether ID is just creationism in disguise."

"Creationism in disguise"? What does that even mean?

The IDists *are* evolutionists -- they, like B.Pushin'Scientism --
1) believe they know that the earth is 4.65 billion years old, even though they have no really good reasons for wanting to teach that as a known fact;
2) believe they know that the universe is 13.82 billion years old, even though they have no really good reasons for wanting to teach that as a known fact;
3) believe that the history of living things (on earth) stretches back at least 3.6 billion years, even though they have no really good reasons for wanting to teach that as a known fact;
4) believe that *all* living organisms (on earth) are biologically related by descent, even though they have no really good reasons for wanting to teach that as a known fact;
5) believe that human beings *are* apes, even though they have no really good reasons for wanting to teach that as a known fact;

This list could be extended indefinitely showing that the IDists are all but indistinguishable from the DarwinDefenders.

There is one, and only one, point of substantive disagreement between the IDists and the DarwinDefenders. And, judging by the actions of the DarwinDefenders, it's clearly a vitally important point.

So, what is that point of disagreement?

Oh, come on! You have been around the block a time or two: you *know* what this vital point of disagreement is. You *know* why the DarwinDefenders need to use leftist tactics discredit and disqualify the IDists. Also, you *know* why the IDists must be discredited and disqualified even if they're not "trying to slip creationism into the schools", but rather are trying only to "slip" the teaching and understanding of real science into the schools.

Victor Reppert said...

The teaching of science should reflect the position of the scientific community for the pedestrian reason that it is a science class, so it teaches people what scientists do.

David Brightly said...

I don't know if education is about Truth with a capital T. One thing it is about is passing aspects of the culture on to the next generation. Scientific knowledge and understanding loom large in our culture and scientists themselves are well placed to pass them on. Is this problematic? Idolatrous?

Ilíon said...

VR: "Indeed, I don't like the attempt to put something into the public schools without more approval from the scientific community."

Ilíon: "Why?"

VR: "The teaching of science should reflect the position of the scientific community for the pedestrian reason that it is a science class, so it teaches people what scientists do."

Again, I ask: "Why?"

And, in any event, of "what scientists do", surely among of the most important is to understand what 'science' is and is not, where the methods of science are or are not appropriate, what 'science' can and cannot "say", what its limits are.

Surely, if science class were *really* about teaching science, then one of the first things the students would learn is that there is no such thing as "Science says", but that rather that certain persons who are accorded as 'scientists' say things that may or may not be rationally warranted or defensible given thus-and-such assumptions.

Surely, if science class were *really* about teaching science, then the first order of business would be to quash incipient scientism, rather than to foster it.

Surely, if science class were *really* about teaching science, then the students would be taught – and would understand in their bones -- that while a given scientific statement may be true or may be false, there is no “scientific” means to determine into which group any scientific statement goes.

Surely, if science class were *really* about teaching science -- rather than being merely a transparent rah-rah session for Darwinism and atheism – then students would be taught how to rationally-and-logically evaluate Darwinistic claims.

Surely, if science class were *really* about teaching science -- rather than being merely a transparent inculcation of atheism – and if evolutionism simply must be taught, then the evolutionism taught would be more like ID and less like Darwinism.

And again, I ask: " When are (you) people going to free your minds of this idolatry of 'Science!'" When are you going to not only say with your mouths, but understand with your minds, that not only is scientism not The Truth, but that it is self-defeating and self-refuting?

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

You generally have very useful (and indeed insightful) contributions to make to the conversation, except when it strays into one of three areas where you are curiously blind to your own prejudices:

1. Politics
2. The Catholic Church
3. Science

In each of these cases, you tend to go off the Deep End, and basically embarrass both yourself and the rest of us.

Ilíon said...

Silly boy! I'm never embarrassed by anything I write. Though, I will grant that idolaters may well be embarrassed when I hold up their idols to public ridicule.

Isn't it seem a bit odd, Gentle Reader, that this particular idolater will constantly accuse me of "going off the deep end" ... and will *always* run away when I (or anyone else) shines a bit of light on one of his idols?

Ilíon said...

Consider, Gentle Reader, the series of "surelys" I asked above of Victor Reppert, and to which B.Pushin'Scientism mindlessly reacts that I have "stray[ed] into one of three areas where [I am] curiously blind to [my] own prejudices" and that I have consequently "go[ne] off the Deep End, and basically embarrass[ed] both [my]self and the rest of [you]".

What Gentle Reader will notice is that in no case does B.Pushin'Scientism even attempt to show (nor ever will) that any of my statemets are false, or even badly reasoned.

Furthermore, if he were pushed on the items -- and prevented from running away -- he would acknowledge that every one of them is true.

But, somehow ... because scientism ... true AND true AND true IMPLIES false. To put it another way, I have shined a light on one of his idols, and thus, even though every specific thing I said is true, the concatenation of those individually true statements must (somehow) be false.

Just to be clear: this is *not* how rational persons "reason".

==========
Or, consider this post by a different idolater -- "I don't know if education is about Truth with a capital T. One thing it is about is passing aspects of the culture on to the next generation. Scientific knowledge and understanding loom large in our culture and scientists themselves are well placed to pass them on. Is this problematic? Idolatrous?"

Christianity "looms" even large in our culture than "scientific knowledge and understanding" ever can. For one thing, "scientific knowledge and understanding" would never exist, in the first place, were it not for Christianity. More importantly, our very culture and wider civilization would not even exist were it not for Christianity.

So, does the idolater's statement meet *his own* approval if we substitute the terms? "I don't know if education is about Truth with a capital T. One thing it is about is passing aspects of the culture on to the next generation. Theological knowledge and understanding loom large in our culture and theologians and pastors themselves are well placed to pass them on. Is this problematic? Idolatrous?"

Oh, come on! You *know* the answer already.

Ilíon said...

But, there is another aspect of that particular idolater's post, which highlights the transparent hypocrisy of that sort of idolater --

Recall, I had asked of VR: "Does "the scientific community" have some special bead on The Truth? And, if it does, how can that be, considering that 'science' can't even determine small-T truths?"

That is the context in which the idolater says -- "I don't know if education is about Truth with a capital T."

Keep that sentence in mind. And keep in mind that he is here *acknowledging* the truth of my rhetorical question to VR. Also, when you *really* examine it, he’s denying that there is such a thing as knowable truth.

"One thing [education] is about is passing aspects of the culture on to the next generation. Scientific knowledge and understanding loom large in our culture and scientists themselves are well placed to pass them on. Is this problematic? Idolatrous?"

The terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ and utterly meaningless apart from truth. If some statement of “scientific knowledge” is not, in fact, a statement of truth, then the statement is not ‘knowledge’ and it is not ‘understanding’.

But, there is no “scientific” means to determine whether any given statement of “scientific knowledge” is, in fact, true or not true. One needs something more than “science” even to tentatively categorize statements of “scientific knowledge” as true or false.

So, wrapping this up, what *this* ‘Science!’ fetishist is saying is this –
1) Yes, Ilíon, you are correct in what you’ve said – scientific statements cannot be scientifically determined to be either true or false;
2) You are correct that the practice of “science” isn’t even about truth;
3) Nevertheless, we *must* indoctrinate impressionable children that a certain sub-set of scientific statements – the ones that, unexamined, seem to support the metaphysics I want to be true -- as being The Truth;
3a) Teaching children how to critically and rationally evaluate claims made by scientists would defeat the purpose of “education”

David Brightly said...

The question is about what we teach in biology lessons. Theology can be taught in theology lessons. I don't know if science is True or Untrue. At least it helps us keep up with the Chinese.

Victor Reppert said...

In fact, one remarkable and, to my mind, wonderful thing about science is that you can do very good science without even thinking that the science you are doing is literally true. Many great scientists have been scientific anti-realists.

B. Prokop said...

"you can do very good science without even thinking that the science you are doing is literally true"

That principle is probably valid for just about any human endeavor. A politician can be a total cynic and not believe one word of his campaign speeches, and yet end up accomplishing great things while in office. A preacher can be the biggest hypocrite in the world, and yet still bring thousands to Christ.

I can still recall my fall-on-the-floor shock when Howard Cosell, probably the greatest sportscaster in all history, near the end of his life said that he never thought what he was doing was at all important or meaningful because "it's only sports!"

Ilíon said...

VR: "In fact, one remarkable and, to my mind, wonderful thing about science is that you can do very good science without even thinking that the science you are doing is literally true. Many great scientists have been scientific anti-realists."

Indeed, you can. And the reason for this is BECASE SCIENCE ISN"T ABOUT TRUTH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Centuries ago, what we now call 'science' was intended to be about truth, but as it developed, especially after the positivists (Comte, et al), and later the logical positivists, tried to make 'science' into the metaphysical support-system for atheism, the nature of 'science' changed. Now, 'science' merely about building "predictive models" that are useful in enabling or extending control of some aspect of the world, regardless of whether the model has any relationship to the truth of the matter.

Of course, it must also be admitted that these days 'science' isn't even about logic *or* empiricism -- as witness all the futile speculatiuons about multiverses being treated as 'science'. This particular trend has its roots in the need to protect Darwinism (i.e. the origins mythology of atheism) from rational/logical evaluation.

Yet, human beings persist -- and always will persist -- in thinking in terms of 'true' and 'false'. This is why most of you reading this simply cannot get it into your minds that "science isn't about truth" -- this is why most of you constantly fall into scientism. Even those of you who will acknowledge every single individual statement I've made about about 'science' (I'm looking at you, B.Pushin'Scientism) will not integrate those statements into a coherent whole and thus cure yourself of your scientism.