Creationism’s best friend has died

It was not merely Judge John E. Jones who ruled against teaching “intelligent design” (ID), a thinly veiled surrogate for “creation science,” in public schools. The citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania, exercised the power of the ballot to ensure that their city did not appeal Kitzmiller. If the case had reached the Supreme Court of the United States, the justices possibly would have split 5-4 in favor of allowing public schools to teach ID.

Today ID lost its prospect of winning in the Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia, Known For Biting Dissents, Dies At 79. As noted in the Wikipedia article on Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), in which the court nailed shut the coffin of creation science,

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, dissented, accepting the Act’s stated purpose of “protecting academic freedom” as a sincere and legitimate secular purpose. They construed the term “academic freedom” to refer to “students’ freedom from indoctrination”, in this case their freedom “to decide for themselves how life began, based upon a fair and balanced presentation of the scientific evidence”.

Has quite a familiar ring, doesn’t it? The rhetoric of the ID movement was designed by a law professor, Phillip Johnson, to suit a creationism-friendly judge of the Law of the Land. This is indeed a sad day for ID, which already had acquired a moribund pallor.

191 thoughts on “Creationism’s best friend has died

  1. Kantian Naturalist: I put him (and a few others) on “Ignore Commenter” as soon as that feature was introduced. I highly recommend it.

    Of coursed you would. You can’t have people refuting the nonsense you post and actually have to respond to it.

  2. Frankie: Of coursed you would. You can’t have people refuting the nonsense you post and actually have to respond to it.

    Alas, a refutation requires more than simply saying “you’re wrong” or simply asserting something. You have to support it. Nobody questions the sincerity of your beliefs, but sincerity isn’t support. I may sincerely believe the moon is made of green cheese, but just SAYING so doesn’t refute those citing analyses of the rocks brought back.

  3. Mung: Schools would get sued for teaching religion.

    You know better than that. Teaching ABOUT religion is perfectly legal. Teaching that some specific religion’s doctrines are Truth is not legal. If much of the history of science involves overcoming religious roadblocks or answering religious objections, this is valid content to teach.

  4. Mung: Schools would get sued for teaching religion.

    One can teach about Galileo without getting into church history. One can teach about the history of geology without getting into religion. One can teach about how the size of the earth can be measured without getting into theology.

    By ninth grade, most kids are ready for a bit of math.

  5. petrushka: One can teach about Galileo without getting into church history. One can teach about the history of geology without getting into religion. One can teach about how the size of the earth can be measured without getting into theology.

    By ninth grade, most kids are ready for a bit of math.

    As a matter of fact, there are comparative religion courses that deal ONLY with religions, and these are perfectly legal — and (of course) creationists HATE them.

  6. Flint: As a matter of fact, there are comparative religion courses that deal ONLY with religions, and these are perfectly legal — and (of course) creationists HATE them.

    And they would hate it if schools taught the controversy. It really ought to be in the textbooks instead of in supplemental materials passed out at the whim of teachers.

  7. Flint: As a matter of fact, there are comparative religion courses that deal ONLY with religions, and these are perfectly legal — and (of course) creationists HATE them.

    Please present the evidence tat Creationists hate them. Or is this just more of your “argument by proclamation”?

  8. petrushka: And they would hate it if schools taught the controversy. It really ought to be in the textbooks instead of in supplemental materials passed out at the whim of teachers.

    No, Creationists and IDists want to teach the controversy. You are obviously well versed in spewing nonsense.

  9. petrushka: And they would hate it if schools taught the controversy. It really ought to be in the textbooks instead of in supplemental materials passed out at the whim of teachers.

    Which textbooks do you mean? Hopefully, not science textbooks because the controversy is religious and political, but in no way a scientific controversy. I think shining a light on efforts to get the State to establish a de facto official religion is a good idea — although my reading of Scalia is that he had no objection to theocracy if it were his religion making the rules.

    I agree that the creationist controversy should not be in “supplemental materials”, which in my observation have been religious propaganda. These materials do not analyze the politics or religion, they praise Jesus and present PRATTs.

  10. Flint,

    The controversy is strictly about science. Evolutionism has no business being taught in a science classroom. Its claims can’t be tested.

  11. Flint: Which textbooks do you mean?

    I do not mean that IDism should be in science textbooks, but I do think kids should be introduced to the history of the sciences. For kids not going on to specialize in science, I think this is more important than memorizing facts.

    They should know how we came to know things and how science developed its approaches.

  12. petrushka,

    And the kids who understand science will understand that evolutionism doesn’t belong in a science classroom. I know my kids will be challenging their teachers when the subject comes up.

  13. petrushka: I do not mean that IDism should be in science textbooks, but I do think kids should be introduced to the history of the sciences.For kids not going on to specialize in science, I think this is more important than memorizing facts.

    They should know how we came to know things and how science developed its approaches.

    OK, presuming this material is appropriately blended in with discussions of the scientific method, what it implies, what its limitations are, and how it works. The development of the scientific method is an important part of the history of science.

    (I had a computer programming professor in my graduate school (public administration) who was asked why we had to study programming, we were never going to be programmers (I eventually became a programmer!). And he said that even bureaucrats must know enough about computers so if some nerd walks in with a 2-foot-thick printout and says “There! We just modeled WWIII over Europe, and the computer says we need 37 more jets” you’ll understand that this is probably complete nonsense.)

  14. Flint,

    OK, presuming this material is appropriately blended in with discussions of the scientific method, what it implies, what its limitations are, and how it works. The development of the scientific method is an important part of the history of science.

    I was having a discussion with the COO of a company I partially own and she said her son in the first grade was learning the scientific method and being asked to create hypothesis with simple examples. This is in northern California. She started as a bartender when we opened our first restaurant 8 years ago and was very eager to learn. I taught her the scientific method and we used it to create tight processes. Her first success was figuring out that the process we were using to deliver sweet potato fries was flawed. Through experiments she isolated they were going bad under a heat lamp. The solution was to pre portion the SPF and deliver them directly to the plate. We lowered our costs by 30% (waste elimination) and started getting rave reviews. We are now opening our 4th restaurant 8 years later. We have run dozens of like experiments since with often game changing results. I learned and used the scientific method over 20 years in the semiconductor industry. Semiconductor companies that did not use it rarely survived.

  15. Frankie,

    Putting all of science in the “Scientific Method” box, with its implication of a white-coated scientist and bubbling flasks, misrepresents much of what scientists spend their time doing. In particular, those who are involved in historical sciences work in a very different way — one in which questioning, investigating, and hypothesizing can occur in any order.

    Thanks for the links. This comes from the University I attended. This would make and interesting OP for discussion.

  16. petrushka:
    More democracy would presumably change policies?

    As far as I can see, regardless of the percentage, turnout generally tracks polling numbers pretty well.

    And one vote doesn’t mean much, regardless of how you argue it.

    One vote means basically nothing in the U.S. system, as I’ve indicated. More democracy doesn’t just mean getting more people to vote and leaving everything else as it is. I’ve explained this in several posts above.

  17. colewd:
    Richardthughes,

    Thanks for the link.Root cause is what we were after when using the scientific method in industrial applications.

    Finding the root cause for many technical issues was my job for several decades. I am very good at it. I can even repair equipment I have no training on.

  18. Frankie: Finding the root cause for many technical issues was my job for several decades. I am very good at it. I can even repair equipment I have no training on.

    The first time?

  19. Flint: As a matter of fact, there are comparative religion courses that deal ONLY with religions, and these are perfectly legal — and (of course) creationists HATE them.

    I didn’t know that comparative religion had actually survived the “false gods” complaints in any school district. Can you tell me where it’s being taught?

    petrushka: And they would hate it if schools taught the controversy. It really ought to be in the textbooks instead of in supplemental materials passed out at the whim of teachers.

    In letters to legislators in my state, I’ve pointed out that the “academic freedom” bills contradict the conservative principle of standards-based education. If there really are “strengths and weaknesses” that need to be taught, then have the state board of education write them into the science standards by the ordinary process, rather than leave the matter to the judgment of individual teachers, relatively few of whom have degrees in science, let alone in biology. It’s patently obvious that Discovery Institute (the source of the model bills) recognized the necessity of subverting educational standards, even in red states like Oklahoma.

  20. Tom English: I didn’t know that comparative religion had actually survived the “false gods” complaints in any school district. Can you tell me where it’s being taught?

    A brief session with Google shows it being taught at a sizeable number of state universities. I don’t know if it’s taught at the K-12 level, but it is not illegal even if fundies with pitchforks and torches shut it down.

    LIn letters to legislators in my state, I’ve pointed out that the “academic freedom” bills contradict the conservative principle of standards-based education. If there really are “strengths and weaknesses” that need to be taught, then have the state board of education write them into the science standards by the ordinary process, rather than leave the matter to the judgment of individual teachers, relatively few of whom have degrees in science, let alone in biology. It’s patently obvious that Discovery Institute (the source of the model bills) recognized the necessity of subverting educational standards, even in red states like Oklahoma.

    I have wondered whether state legislators would even grasp the concept that in grades 9-12, science deals only with long settled and established matters, and genuine conflicts tend to lie at the cutting edge of science, usually not encountered until the graduate school level.

    Bottom line: the science taught in secondary schools is long past the point where any scientific controversy exists. High school level science HAS no known “weaknesses”. Religious and political controversies belong in social studies classes, if anywhere.

    I strongly suspect that the legislators are well aware of this. Poor educations for the students in their states is a small price to pay for their re-election, which requires the “praise Jesus” vote. No amount of damage to the state or nation is too high a price to pay for re-election.

  21. Mung: Thanks. I either have to have that or leave this site.

    A choice you also require of the rest of us. We’re all giggling together here.

  22. newton: Sorry misread, then big deal,who hasn’t?

    Well I can repair equipment that I didn’t have any training repairing. That is a big deal and it saves me thousands of dollars each year.

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