February 01, 2005
"Discovery Phase" at American Prospect Online
Over at The American Prospect Online, Chris Mooney examines the latest wave of anti-evolution activity in Discovery Phase. He notes:
It's official. With recent news of lawsuits over the teaching of evolution in both Georgia and Pennsylvania, even Time magazine now considers the fight over Charles Darwin's theory a live issue again. The New York Times and The Washington Post have both come out against the new anti-evolutionism, while on FOX News, a braying Bill O'Reilly recently announced that "there are a lot of very brilliant scholars who believe the reason we have incomplete science on evolution is that there is a higher power involved in this." O'Reilly then proceeded to call the American Civil Liberties Union "the Taliban" for opposing the teaching of anti-evolutionist perspectives in public-school science classes.
The ID movement has its home base at a Seattle think tank called the Discovery Institute. Mindful of legal precedents, Discovery does not officially advocate bringing up ID in classrooms (as has happened in Dover, Pennsylvania, to Discovery's chagrin). Rather, the institute wants students to learn about the "controversy" over evolution -- a controversy that is supposedly scientific in nature. And in fact, just like adherents of "creation science," ID proponents have been able to cobble together a few Ph.D.s who support their cause, providing "scientific" critiques of evolutionary theory.
Time gets an F: its latest coverage failed to uncover the really juicy stuff about the ID movement, like the passage cited above. But the press will catch on eventually, as will the courts. And unless they're radically reshaped by President Bush, it seems likely that they will reject ID just as they once rejected "creation science."
Unfortunately, I'm not 100% convinced that the Supreme Court will keep ID out of the schools. They seem to be swayed much more by public opinion than we would like to think, and public opinion these days seems to be moving in the wrong direction.
I just returned from attending a talk by a local ID advocate. The title of the presentation was "Intelligent Design: A Scientific Alternative to Evolution". There were over 100 people in the audience, and the vast majority appeared to be creationists/IDers. The primary objection of the evolution supporters was that ID means religion -- an idea which didn't phase the creationists/IDers one bit (and in fact sounded good to them).
I'll talk more about this later.
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I have a question. When Creation Science/ID proponents claim that evolution is "only a theory, not a fact," why isn't the arguement that evolution produces practical results in areas like animal breeding, DNA testing, etc. used more often?
Posted by: Kevin Breen | Feb 2, 2005 6:28:16 PM
I think the argument IS made that evolution produces practical results. However, most ID proponents have a clever way around that argument. They don't dispute that MICRO-evolution works -- i.e. change within a "form", such as more resistant bacteria; they merely argue that MACRO-evolution doesn't work -- i.e. one species doesn't give rise to a different "form".
Since macro-evolution takes a LONG time, it's unlikely that we're going to be able to show it happening within their lifetime, which allows them to continue to claim that it doesn't happen.
Posted by: Wally Hartshorn | Feb 7, 2005 10:28:38 PM
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