2006/09/16

Designs on Intelligence

Well, here we go again

This time its not local, its state politics, and the illogical notion of teaching creationism (yes folks, that’s what “Intelligent Design” (ID) means) in a modern science curriculum.

We have a couple of ID proponents trying to weaken the Michigan Board of Education science curriculum guidelines to the point of absurdity, and they have won a couple of extra weeks to browbeat the legislature and then the board of education into their way of thinking.

The wording they are petitioning for will mandate the discussion of alternatives to evolution which will, surprise-surprise, bring the teaching of ID into the classroom.

The Detroit Free Press carried this article on Thursday which outlines the proceedings.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060913/NEWS06/609130370/1008

The people at Michigan Citizens for Science have called for concerned citizens to write to the board of education expressing our concern.

http://michigancitizensforscience.org/main/nfblog/2006/09/

I encourage you to write and express your concern.

The reason I think this is illogical has nothing to with my opinions on ID, it goes to the roots of western science and the teaching of the prevailing scientific paradigm.

It defies good sense to attempt to teach high-school students a well-established and extremely successful method of scientific evaluation, and at the same time entertain a philosophical debate regarding its efficacy. This creates unnecessary and unwarranted confusion and erodes understanding

Evolution is the basis of the current scientific paradigm regarding natural science. It needs to be taught and understood for our students to progress in the field. The method also needs to be taught and understood before it can be intelligently debated.

Science has been dedicated to the parameters of space and time since the days shortly after Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Sir Isaac Newton left the crystal spheres of Ptolemy and Aristotle shattered once and for all in an untidy heap on the on the science room floor. They had shattered a 2200 year old prevailing belief that the Earth was at the centre of the Universe.

These men fully understood the prevailing teaching of the day. The debates about the nature of the Universe were rightly entertained at university level, and conducted with a complete understanding of the prevailing scientific, philosophical, and theological paradigm.


The day that western science made the leap of mathematical proof, was the day that the metaphysical universe was entirely removed from the western science classroom. The philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, the theology of the Church, and the astrology of Ptolemy were divorced from the hard physical reality of the mathematically defined universe. It was a marriage that had lasted over 1000 years.

Whether I believe that this was a good thing or not is irrelevant. This was the direction that our scientific community took, for better or for worse.

Those who are teaching science in a metaphysical context maybe teaching philosophy, astrology, theology, or cosmology, but they are not teaching modern science.

Intelligent Design predisposes a metaphysical context.

Introducing a metaphysical debate to the student before the foundation for modern scientific investigation is laid defies good sense. The metaphysical debate belongs in the universities once the foundation is laid for our students, and the current paradigm understood.

The onus of proof lies with ID because it requires a complete paradigm shift.

There is nothing to stop Intelligent Design being proven beyond reasonable doubt if that is at all possible. On that day, it should become part of the modern science curriculum. In the meantime, evolution is taught because it fits enough of the prevailing scientific paradigm to be a useful analytical tool.

Intelligent Design does not.

If our legislators wish to turn the scientific clock back 400 years to the Ptolemaic Universe where God the Creator was in charge of the crystal spheres that contained the planets, then perhaps they should like to teach Astrology, Alchemy, and Occult Philosophy along with their Theology.

It was all part of the same science curriculum.

Take Care

Rod

2 comments:

trusty getto said...

You know, I must admit that I'm skeptical of media reports and don't have the skinny on why this is happening, but I must say my first reaction when I heard about this was negative.

On thing our politicians don't seem to get is that just because they are elected to something doesn't mean they are an expert on everything. It's completely unclear to me why anybody would want a politician's input into a science curriculum that was crafted by a state board of education that has a number of education experts on it and that consulted experts.

Unless of course, the goal is to inject politics into the curriculum, which is what this appears to involve.

We'll have to see what happens with this, but it is definitely disturbing that the state board of education didn't simply say, "Thank you, but we've gotten all the input we need."

And pardon my cynicism, but I'm also skeptical of the timing with an election coming up. Anybody who wanted to weigh in on these standards has had gads of time to do so. Why a last minute intervention is needed is quite the mystery to me.

Kate said...

I love your title, Rod. It is certainly a design on intelligence, or maybe they have designs AGAINST intelligence.

As for Trusty Getto: I've talked with enough "politicians" who are running simply and solely to forward their own agenda, often religious, to make me wonder if this isn't what these two did. Unfortunately for us, they actually got elected. It seems to me this is simply another case of religious fanatics -- now called "neoconservatives" -- to inject religion into our government.

Although our country has gotten along just fine for 219 years with the separation of church and state, that is not good enough now. Not only should we worry about the ID issue at the state level, but we should be concerned about how these radicals are insinuating themselves into government at ALL levels. We're going to end up with a theocracy at the rate we're going.