20 Years Ago, the Intelligent Design Movement’s “Wedge Document” Was Exposed

That seems to run afoul of the first prong of the Lemon test:

  1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (Also known as the Purpose Prong)

What is the secular purpose of discussing ID in such a way? At best, it is a good way of showing students how science is not done. The standard curricula do include examples of bad scientific theories, so it is possible to approach it in this manner. However, if using ID as an example of bad science runs afoul of the religious sentiments of those in the general public then we have to consider the 3rd prong of the Lemon test:

The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. (Also known as the Entanglement Prong)

If you have to change the philosophy of science to include ID, then that is a pretty good indication that ID is not science, at least in my opinion.


Nor in my opinion–certainly not presently, and I’d be surprised if that changed at some point down the road, but who knows? Every physicist born in 1860 knew the ether existed, but it was no longer scientific several decades later.

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Case law is clear that a secular educational purpose must be served: we also agree on this. Around the time of the Dover trial, the leading authority on creationism and the law, namely Edward Larson, told me personally that if there were a clear, secular educational purpose for introducing ID in a science class, then it could be done. I think he based that on the Supreme Court’s creationism case from the 1980s. He didn’t suggest how that might happen, simply that if one had such a purpose it could be Constitutional.

I don’t know whether he’s changed his mind since the Dover case.

As I’ve indicated throughout this thread, I’m an advocate of teaching science with significant attention to HPS–Harvard Physics Project style. In such an approach, I fail to see why a teacher would be prohibited from using Darwin’s Origin of Species (or Newton’s Opticks, or Boyle’s views on “laws of nature”). In such a primary-source based unit, it would IMO be malpractice not to lead discussions of the concepts and discoveries as they were understood by those scientists themselves, perhaps comparing them with modern views. You can’t discuss Darwin properly without engaging design and creation as the views he contrasted with his own hypothesis. If that’s not a clear secular purpose, then I don’t know one when I see one.


That would certainly be a great class at the undergraduate level, but it doesn’t seem appropriate at the high school level.

Instead of ID, perhaps Paley’s Watchmaker concepts might be a better way to broach the subject since this was one of the philosophical ideas during Darwin’s era. Just a thought . . .

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In fact, the Nazis banned teaching anything about evolution because it violated their political “race theory.”

Die Bucherei, the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, published these collection evaluation guidelines during the second round of “purifications” (saüberung).

“Schriften weltanschaulichen und lebenskundlichen Charakters, deren Inhalt die falsche naturwissenschaftliche Aufklärung eines primitiven Darwinismus und Monismus ist (Häckel).”

“Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel).”

Even obscure books such as Arnold Dodel’s 1875 text were removed from German libraries. As a matter of fact, Adolf Hitler himself was a standard issue creationist;

Like a creationist, Hitler asserts fixity of kinds:
"The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. xi

Like a creationist, Hitler claims that God made man:
"For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x

Like a creationist, Hitler affirms that humans existed “from the very beginning”, and could not have evolved from apes:
“From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.” - Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier 27 February 1942)

It’s unclear how this addresses my concern about the genetic fallacy. If it were discovered that Nazis had developed a cure for aids, and that cure could be made availabe to people today, should we deny people access to that cure because of it’s origin?

I should have thought it was obvious.

You asked if the Nazis were blocked from competent science by their ideology.

Since this context is evolutionary biology versus religious dogma, the only cogent reply was about the Nazi failure to competently grasp evolutionary theory. I documented that the Nazis could not conduct competent biological studies because they had political, and religious presuppositions.

I suggest on the later point, see;

Richards, Robert J.
2013 “Was Hitler a Darwinian: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory” University of Chicago Press.

I’m sorry, but that is not what I asked. I wasn’t asking about whether it is possible to have ideological blinders on. Both sides seem to think that is the case for the other side. There appears to be some miscommunication and I’m unsure how to proceed so let’s just leave it at that. Thanks.

A better comparison would be scientists who claim to be unbiased, and who have come to the well supported scientific conclusion that the Aryan people are the most fit race of humans. When asked to present the actual scientific work, they can’t produce it. However, they can link you to a propaganda website that just repeats the same claims, sans science.

At that point, finding an internal memo outlining how the website and organization were trying to further Nazi ideology would be enlightening, but hardly surprising.

No, that would not be a better comparison. The Aryan people are not the most fit race of humans because that is a claim that Nazis made!

And now you say you didn’t say what you said.

Why was my post hidden/ Good grief. Who is voting onn this censorship. it was hatmless.
i think its because it hit a nerve. wow.

Was there a public service announcement by the AAAS that Darwinism no longer meant evolution? Because not everyone got the memo.

29• Universal Darwinism

R Dawkins - The nature of life: Classical and contemporary …, 2010 - books.google.com

[HTML] Group adaptation, formal Darwinism and contextual analysis

S Okasha, C Paternotte - Journal of evolutionary biology, 2012 - Wiley Online Library

Epigenetic variation and cellular Darwinism

JP Issa - Nature genetics, 2011 - nature.com

Neo‐ Darwinism , the Modern Synthesis and selfish genes: are they of use in physiology?D Noble - The Journal of physiology, 2011 - Wiley Online Library

Evolutionary developmental biology offers a significant challenge to the neo - Darwinian paradigm

MD Laubichler - Contemporary debates in philosophy of biology, 2010 - books.google.com

Evolution of adaptive phenotypic traits without positive Darwinian selection

AL Hughes - Heredity, 2012 - nature.com

Extending and expanding the Darwinian synthesis: the role of complex systems dynamics

BH Weber - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C …, 2011 - Elsevier

etc. Somehow this ended at the wrong thread. Why?

Sorry, but I don’t understand what you are talking about and you failed to provide any details. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to pursue further.

What has Holocaust denial got to do with teaching history and philosophy of science, which is what Ted is talking about?

Which is not what Ted was suggesting. He was talking about making science students aware of issues in the history and philosophy of science which should be part of a properly rounded scientific education. He wasn’t suggesting that a biology teacher should digress into talking about his latest low score on the golf course, or the politics of Donald Trump, or how to cook Vietnamese food, or the like.

Sounds like those parents are pretty shallow, materialistic individuals, who think the sole purpose of education is to advance their kids’ career prospects, salaries, and entry into the world of upper-middle-class life, as opposed to thinking deeply about what is true. More thoughtful, reflective parents will remember that some of the best lessons they ever had in high school occurred when the teacher departed a bit from the curriculum to talk about a subject (related to the subject of the class, of course) in which he or she had a passionate intellectual interest – even if nothing the teacher said in that context was going to be on any exam. If there’s no room for discussions of that sort in the schools, then the schools aren’t institutions of education, in the proper sense of the word.

Yep, that’s the world of the upper-middle-class life around here. Remote online education during COVID has resulted in even more extreme inequality in education.

Sure, these religious propagandists will try anything to “Wedge” their agenda into the public education system.

It’d be nice if they could be trusted to treat the history of how scientific theories have arisen as a purely educational enterprise to enhance the understanding of the nature of the scientific method.

But we all know that’s not what will happen, right? Instead, it’ll be Bible thumpers shrieking about how Darwin was a racist and an atheist, and therefore so is evolution.

Sad, but true.

Er, ah, uhhh… I was speaking of Ted Davis. He’s a TE who affirms the truth of evolution and isn’t in favor of mandating either ID or creationism in the classroom, and he’s to my knowledge certainly no supporter of the Wedge Document.

Which is exactly what Ted has done – treat the history of scientific theory as an educational enterprise – at his college for 20 or 30 years now.

Ted’s remarks went beyond merely the discussion of Darwin and evolution in ninth-grade biology. He was making some general remarks about the role of history/philosophy of science in science education, that would apply not just to biology but to all science teaching, in both high school and college.

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