December 24, 2008 | By | 14 Replies More

It would seem according to this report that University and College presence of Intelligent Design is on its deathbed.  Perhaps this is premature, but if true it would signal that the basic inability of ID to support its own conclusions are now becoming evident to all but the thoroughly committed.

Am I glad about this?

I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, it certainly gives me some hope that people are not as gullible as they often appear.  On the other, ID was a good example of comparison for science courses which usually only have long-dead examples of bad science with which to establish baselines for classroom examples on how science, properly applied, ousts erroneous lines of inquiry.

Those who truly believe ID is a viable model will see this as a triumph of cliques and clades, the “political” marginalization of an idea that challenges tenure, sinecure, and authority.  It won’t occur to them that ID just can’t compete because it is not good science.  Or if it does occur to them, they will dismiss it because the central notion behind it is something they hold a priori as absolute and anything that might threaten it is to be attacked and anything, no matter how ambiguous, erroneous, or boneheaded, that supports it must be defended.

Now how is that supposed to be scientific?

(By the way, when you read the post linked to, it is interesting to read the comments to the end.)


Category: American Culture, Censorship, Culture, Current Events, Education, Evolution, Science

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

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  1. distal muse » Blog Archive » Chapter the Next | December 24, 2008
  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    Unfortunately, Intelligent Design was merely a recent repackaging of faith-based anti-science. If it is truly fading, then it's successor is most likely "Academic Freedom", as is pointed out by Pharyngula in The new buzz phrase.

    States have already succumbed, and others are being attacked, by the Discovery Institute to institute a policy allowing teachers to "teach the controversy" using "alternate scientific materials". By "scientific" they clearly mean any "sciency" looking materials that support presumptions that run counter to actual science, especially and pointedly in biology.

    The scientific principle of common descent (first published in the 1790's, and explicitly extended to ourselves in the 1850's) has been under attack since the 1920's. I don't expect it to be universally accepted in my lifetime.

    But we can vigilantly try to keep the line between scientific understanding and reactionary philosophy from blurring too badly.

  2. Karl says:

    Does Mark have any idea how many "scientific organizations" with any religious affiliations have been pretty much dismembered by the agnostics and atheists of society? All they need to do is to require the idea of separation of science from religion and the funding appears to dry up for these organizations. Or the funding comes from the "Respected American University Professionals which takes the group into the brave new world of modern philosophical enlightenment. The groups now know to limit their membership to avoid "trolls" as Erich would call them. Those that don't or can't limit their membership find they are attacked from both without and within and their leadership dries up. Sounds like what happened to this group.

    The agnostics and atheists would just love to get a few of their kin into the discovery institute, ICR, Answers in Genesis or the CRS, but since these groups have nothing to do with the university elite they can't be touched and it bothers the university professionals to no end.

    The ID movement is not dead, its only that the university professors who think they are becomeing more invinscible, because of the climate and methods of their department chairs and tenured professors to keep ID away from all venues on the college campus.

    See these links:






    Lets change two phrases in Mark's paragraph and then ask why this now still makes sense to someone like me.

    Switch "Macroscopic Evolution" for "ID" and switch "the mainstream" for "cliiques and clades" and see how this reads.

    Mark's statement:

    Those who truly believe ID is a viable model will see this as a triumph of cliques and clades, the “political” marginalization of an idea that challenges tenure, sinecure, and authority. It won’t occur to them that ID just can’t compete because it is not good science. Or if it does occur to them, they will dismiss it because the central notion behind it is something they hold a priori as absolute and anything that might threaten it is to be attacked and anything, no matter how ambiguous, erroneous, or boneheaded, that supports it must be defended.

    Would change to:

    Those who truly believe macroscopic evolutuion is a viable model will see this as a triumph of the mainstream, the “political” marginalization of an idea that challenges tenure, sinecure, and authority. It won’t occur to them that macroscopic evolution just can’t compete because it is not good science. Or if it does occur to them, they will dismiss it because the central notion behind it is something they hold a priori as absolute and anything that might threaten it is to be attacked and anything, no matter how ambiguous, erroneous, or boneheaded, that supports it must be defended.

    Works for me.

    I quote George Bush (I know, I just lost all respect from almost everyone here on DI)

    "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

    If this debate can't occur on univeristy campuses without the Univeristy tenured professionals feeling threatened, it probably can't occurr anywhere with common courtesy.

  3. Karl,

    Sounds like conspiracy theorizing to me.

    The Debate, as you put it, probably is taking place on university campuses, just not listed in the syllabus where you think it should be, or in the courses where you think it's pertinent.

    The atheistic and agnostic scientists who may want to get into the CRS or Discovery Institute…for what reason? To dismantle them? I think you assume too much importance on the part of the CRS et al. I can't see legitimate scientists believing it would be worth the bother. No real science gets done in those places.

  4. Not Invented Here; a typical response from most otherwise innovative corporations that believe they have their market "sewed up" and the independent inventor then works alone or seeks an angel to fund marketing efforts. First it's the banksters, then the corporations {and unions} then the educators all with their hands out to socialist government because there was no market for their shoddy merchandise.

  5. Erika Price says:

    I was about to creep in here and rant about how the ID-ers (not to be confused with DI-ers) will just repackage their charge as something else, much as they did with "creationism". But I see Dan/Pharyngula beat me to that thought! Academic freedom is so perfect as a replacement for ID, as it actually sounds like something most people would support whole heartedly. It reminds me of the anti-vaccinationists packaging their prejudices under the banner of "choice" in medicine. Sure, yeah, I support the word you are using…but not what you kooks mean when you use it.

    Oh, Language…I love it, but it's always gettin' in the way.

  6. Karl says:

    Mark says:

    "The Debate, as you put it, probably is taking place on university campuses, just not listed in the syllabus where you think it should be, or in the courses where you think it’s pertinent."

    The debate is not a debate because Evoultionists will not permit it either in the classroom or in any organized group setting. Professors who discuss these matters inside or outside of the classroom, inside or outside of the syllabus had better have tenure or they are going to be forced out of their positions.

    Doctoral candidates who slip through the cracks are sometimes confronted when is it appears too late, often when they are about to present their oral defenses for their work.

    When a doctoral project is presented that questions anything about evolution the big guns are pulled in to keep the matter from blemishing their university's archives.

    Lets be honest and stop defending the unprovable nature of macroevolution as though it were a more scientific approach to the origin of anything with a pattern of design and functionality. Life energy and life forces are short term exempt from the naturalistic physical sciences in a way that the world of naturalistic science alone will never be able to comprehend.

    Crystals show patterns of design but never complex functionality. Find a piece of silicon that manages to possess better and more functional "utilitarian" circuits after a few billion years and you will then have a better understand of this whole the matter from a naturalistic point of view.

    Life with its unknowable mysteries (things of the spirit) are not capable of being explained from a strictly naturalistic point of view.

    As for why an atheist, or an agnostic or even a Christian who heralds the virtues of natutralistic science might want to become a member with CRS or the Discovery Institute is simple. Infiltrate, get into leadership and then change the mission and founding documents of the society.

    Ever hear of places like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and even Cornell. Seems the atheists, agnostic and Christians who herald the virtues of naturalistic science had a field day with these institutions founded for reasons other than the propagation of naturalistic science and its limited philosphical point of view of utilitarianism.

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Mr. MacNeil has done some thorough investigation here. I agree with you that we need to hold up ID as a failed psuedo-science, but I'm hopeful that we can effectively do that without all these extra-curricular fake-science clubs. I'd like to see the problems of ID taught right alongside the problems with phlogiston and epicycles.

    Mostly, though, I'd like to see the ID fanatics who are still out there dare to apply the same burden of proof to ID and evolution by natural selection. The moment that is done, ID implodes.

  8. Karl says:

    ID implodes under rigorous naturalistic science as macro-evolution implodes under rigorous treatment of the purely physical natural sciences.

    Without "life" of some basic elementary non-physical description already exists in the equation both micro and macro evolution impode as well.

    Proponents of ID only want a level playing field when it comes to the origin of life, not the origin and possibilities of diversity. Those who ignore the emergence of even the simplest living organism ought to be shown their flaw, much like geocentrism, macro-evolution that ignores the possibility of a different philosophical point of view concerning the existing physical world besides the created world itself are limiting what their minds can consider as truth.

    I know full well the trust naturalistic scientist put in their own point of view (which is claimed to be superior to any other). I say it again however, when it comes to philosophy and matters life and the spirit, naturalistic science is not the only game in town, nor is it be the best one to consider such matters. There are premises behind every extrapolated calculation that tries to call itself naturalism.

    Explain to me how any living things arose from non-living natural materials spontaneously and you've got my full undivided naturalistic attention. Otherwise this is why I consider macro-evoluton and the dominance of naturalistic science over other points of view to be lacking credibility.

    Naturalistic science uses supposed objective evidence to support an explanation for everything of importance to their perspective, but it must silence its critics from showing it own failures and problems.

    Even the Bible shows "man's perspective of God" and "His people" with warts and all. I would suppose most of you would have wanted a holy book that was a happy ever after just so story from beginning to end, like you wish for evolution, this is way Darwin is buried in an Anglican Church.

    You believe evolution and natural selection has such explanatory power, but yet you can not exlain the basics for how life exists to begin with. You hold to the hope that the clues to existence are all naturalistic in origin because you chose to not consider any other possibilty for these types of deep questions.

    Even courses taught as philosophy in univerisities that do not bow down to the all explanatory power of naturalism are disparaged as not being scientific and therefore a waste of time. These courses are beginning to show up and the natural science departments are starting to squirm. They are now beginning to demand of tenured philosophy teachers that they do not compare the shortcomings of evolution with other significant theories of origins. You will not see this as written policy, but it is present all through academia.

    Memos and petetions have been sent throughout many universities by administration not wanting to have to moderate the potential crises on their own campuses. Faculty that do not tow the line on and off campus are being targeted. You may not see this as an issue but academic freedom and freedom of speech are apparently not rights that people ought ot have on a college campus, and especially not on the premises of a public school that recieves unbiased tax funded support.

    Since when does a secular use of tax funded money mean that only certain sides of public issues can be taught? Recently this material was being addressed in a philosophy elective, not a science classroom.

    This matter went to court and the philosophy course was dropped because it was discussing origins in a way that did show that evolution does havbe some serious distractors. But then philosophy that isn't scientific and that doesn't support evolution it really of a religious nature, we all know that. That can not be taught as it would favor the disestablishment of the religion the naturalists.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    Karl: The vigorous dance of skepticism, observations and extrapolation of observed evidence is the same for scientists who A) figure out how to make airplanes fly, B) figure out how to make new types of plastic and C) figure out the origin of species. I emphasize: Scientists are by nature skeptical. They ruthlessly attack theories and evidence that lack support. That is one of the hallmarks of science. Skepticism is something you've apparently never employed when reading the many wild and unsubstantiated claims of your Bible.

    Without any evidence, you've suggested that scientists fail to employ this same basic scientific method. You've offered only "conspiracies" by universities and the "bias" of scientists. It appears to me that what you mean by the "bias" of scientists is the fact that they rely on the scientific method and they don't leave room for believing (without evidence) in the intervention of supernatural beings so as to allow a young earth (for those of you who haven't been following the many comments of Karl that we have allowed on this site, sporadic supernatural intervention is his version of "science.")

    Is there such a thing as bad science? Of course there is. Bad science makes conclusions without testing. But bad science is eventually destroyed by good science, not by people clinging to Bibles. The modern university version of biology relentlessly attempts to rely on the meticulous gathering and analysis of evidence. Its extrapolations (by and large) are well established (and constantly under attack by other scientists–there are Nobel Prizes waiting for any scientist who upsets the apple-cart dramatically).

    No, the universities don't give you what YOU want: A supernatural god who intervenes in the natural world sporadically and dramatically, in order to support the writings of ancient religious writings.

  10. Karl,

    There are two kinds of Why questions. One is the sort that goes like this: why does an artillery shell follow an arc to its target rather than travel in a straight line? The other is: why do we shoot artillery shells at targets in the first place?

    Science is very good at answering the first Why question (gravity) but less good at answering the second, which has to do with human emotions.

    But we move now into neuropsychology and we begin to find answers suggestive of the reasons behind the second question.

    Then it becomes a matter of being satisfied with the answers. You do reach a point at which you start sounding like an annoying three-year-old asking "Why?" after every explanation. To a point, this is sophisticated. After a point it's just infantile.

    (I hasten to add I did not mean that YOU are acting like an annoying three-year-old, it was a generalization.)

    I found this quote from Edward O. Wilson the other day. I doubt it will satisfy you, but it certainly satisfies me.

    "Once we get over the shock of discovering that the universe was not made with us in mind, all the meaning the brain can master, and all the emotions it can bear, and all the shared adventure we might wish to enjoy, can be found by deciphering the hereditary orderliness that has borne our species through geological time and stamped it with the residues of deep history." from "Consilience"

  11. Dan Klarmann says:

    Karl: Watch this video

    <object width="425" height="349"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/U6QYDdgP9eg&rel=0&border=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/U6QYDdgP9eg&rel=0&border=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="349"></embed></object>

    Note that this only demonstrates one of the currently competing theories on how evolution began. No Intelligence Required.

  12. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan: Thank you for the clear summary real-life scientifically informed account of the origin of life. Great music too.

    I'm sure, though, that many folks will still prefer a vengeful god who impregnates a virgin as the full answer.

  13. Karl says:

    If anyone thinks an animated picture with the appropriate narration proves how life originated or even comes close to answering why life originated, I think some science fiction I've seen is just as good. The music definitely had me focused as well. Lets put this one up for a scientific award. I could offer a few more good narratives from some science fiction I've read and viewed as well. Isn't that why Darwin is so beloved – anything you can say for natural selection is a possibility, until its proven otherwise. Then we just look in other places and in alternate universes.

    As long as the right perspectives (i.e. the actual means are uncertain but it sounds as though it might be possible and are therefore probable) are used, it makes for a good scientific expose.

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