Mike Behe & Joshua Swamidass on Unbelievable: The Kitzmiller-Dover trial and Intelligent Design 15

Here are the images I presented. The first is google trends on “Intelligent Design”, “Ken Ham,” and “Theistic Evolution”:

The second adds in Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins.

And the third shows interest over time, with a spike for ID with the dover trial, and a spike for Ken Ham for his debate with Nye.


I note that he continues to say that “the ACLU” sued the school district. What a bizarre thing to keep saying, and what a culture-war “tell” that is. The school district was sued by its victims: the parents and children whose attempt to ram religion down their throats Behe defended.


And he forgets to acknowledge Freedom From Religion Foundation. :rofl:


It was a really good discussion!

What’s the time stamp for this? I listened to it, but don’t remember it.

it is right at the beginning when Behe first speaks. Realize that it was the parents of students who sued because they felt that their children were being REQUIRED to listen to Government speech jamming religion down their throat. The BOE was requiring a statement in science class to be read saying that evolution was just a theory not a fact. The judge ruled that ID was creationism and NOT science. Therefore the statement being read was unconstitutional. FFRF lawyers were very active in the case supporting the parents against the government (the school board). This was a first amendment case where the government is forbidden to push religion in public schools.


Found it. About 3 minutes.

Is evolution a fact of origins it can’t explain everything about origins?

Just added in the three slides I presented to the OP.

I’m not sure “origins” is a very meaningful category to put things in. But if we’re talking about where diversity among living things comes from, evolution is very helpful in explaining that.


Even I agree with that. The problem here in this case was saying evolution is an explanation for origins, isn’t it? If ID is taught, children will assume there must or even just might be a God, and they should be taught that origins don’t require a God?

There were various problems with the statement that was read to the children that one could pick apart. But the principal issue was not what was said about evolution – it was what was said about ID Creationism. There was a certain amount of disparagement of evolutionary theory, including some parts which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to anyone such as the enigmatic statement that “gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence,” and these provided some context for the treatment of ID; but whether those disparagements would have been deemed unconstitutional by themselves is a tighter issue (akin, as I recall it, to the “textbook sticker” case which was, I think, in Georgia).


I agree the statement wasn’t very good. IMO just teach which origins questions haven’t been answered yet and where scientists are still researching. Teenagers aren’t dumb. Just don’t teach it as if science has all the answers. But I have no clue what textbooks say…

When creation science makes testable predictions and can convince biologists, then it should be taught too.


I don’t think I disagree, but perhaps a remark or two to clarify. In a sense, all questions haven’t been “answered yet,” in that even the most solid of scientific conclusions is, at least in principle, subject to falsification. I don’t think anybody teaches that “science has all the answers,” and, as others have pointed out, on the day science does have all the answers we can close all the labs everywhere and pat ourselves on the back and regard science as something people more primitive than ourselves, who did not yet know everything, had to do but which is now useless. These days, there is something of a trend to teaching science as a process of inquiry rather than as a set of conclusions reached by scientists – there are both good and bad aspects to that, I think – so that these days kids are less and less likely to think of “science” as simply a body of definitive and final answers and more likely to think of it as a mode of inquiry which has developed a variety of answers, some of which are quite solid and others of which are more tentative.

If “creation science” starts doing those things, it will no longer need the special moniker, because it’ll just be science, and it will not then be necessary to say that “it” should be taught, too, because it’ll be part of science, and will be taught. So the Big Bang, once disliked by some for what they saw as its religious flavor, is taught – because science, without the influence of religious thought one way or the other, turned out to support it. If the evidence should ever turn out to squarely contradict it, then we should expect it to be taught less and less, again with regard for its status as science and not with regard for how it conforms to anyone’s religion.


Why? I can’t think of any other high school science topic where teachers spend a lot of time on questions which haven’t been answered yet. Teachers have precious little time to cover the fundamentals in any case, let alone tangential issues which only arise with this topic because there is a religious controversy and politics involved.

Many are. It comes with immaturity. Based on my experience as a youth pastor (for a relatively brief time long ago) and a professor who eventually found himself teaching later in his career at a private university where there were a lot of 17 to 19 year old undergraduates in my classes (a big shock after teaching grad level), I can assure you that lots of teenagers are quite “dumb.” Especially when it comes to science and to logic and “critical thinking.”

I don’t know of any science teacher who claims that science has all the answers. Are you sure that sure a teacher exists? (If such a hypothetical person exists, they shouldn’t be in the classroom. They have no idea how science operates.)

Neither did the Dover school board. They authorized those textbook stickers precisely because they were ignorant of evolutionary biology.


I really appreciate your response and I believe I agreed with all of it except this. For example, in @swamidass previous interview with Behe, the interviewer was surprised and commented toward the end of the program something like - he thought science had all the answers [relative to what he remembers being taught] about evolution. I can find the time stamp if you want.

For my own part, as a kid, I just assumed science had all the answers about origins such that they would never be challenged in my lifetime. And the questions about how old the earth is or how long it takes light to reach us from stars billions of light-years away bothered me from time to time, but I didn’t see another way to read the Bible consistently in order to view those explanations as accurate. So I just assumed I’d get answers directly from God later. :smiling_face: Now that I’m seeing how science actually works, I realize things just aren’t nearly as black and white as we see them as children.

I have a different perspective - I taught high school kids for three years after college before I moved and realized it wasn’t and never was the job for me. Many are extremely immature, but I also had many students who were thoughtful, very smart, and/or logical and just trying to navigate difficult problems of growing up. They mostly desired consistency and kindness from the adults around them and didn’t always get it. My husband is an assistant coach for high school track and there’s many kids who don’t fulfill their potential and are even plain annoying, but he’s had some amazingly mature, just really nice kids though the years.


Thanks. On that point – whether people are taught that “science has all the answers” – I guess I would say that while many people at times THINK that science has all the answers, it’s not so much that they are TAUGHT that.

But science education has been changing. When I last took a biology class, Jimmy Carter was president. I think that in those days we tended to get taught a lot of the “conclusions” of science as opposed to the methods, and it might be that that style of instruction does indeed leave a lot of people thinking science has all the answers. It didn’t leave me thinking that, though, and while it marks me as an old git, the fact is that I think there was a lot to be said for that style of teaching.

In particular, what I got from my high school biology class was simply a breathtaking overview of the diversity of life. I had no idea how many ways there were to be a living thing, but we went on a sort of phylum-of-the-week plan all year. I think we barely talked about evolution – I’m not sure I can recall us actually talking about it at all, but we may have – but I think that this sense of the diversity and complexity of life was the most powerful lesson I ever learned about evolution: that life exists in a vast array of forms and that simply classifying them, as Linnaeus did, begins to reveal an underlying order which must flow from nature itself. My sense, in speaking to people about biology, is that most people either never learned this stuff or have forgotten all of it.

I do recall inquiring where the mammals came from, and being told something vague about “mammal-like reptiles,” as they were usually called then (and still are today, but with a bit of a sense that saying these words is cladistically naughty), so I suppose evolution formed some part of the subtext of it all, but we didn’t talk about evolutionary processes and things of that sort much, if at all.

These days there is a more experiential, process-oriented style of teaching. What this gains is a better understanding of the role of science as an inquisitive, investigative process; what it loses is classroom hours that might have been devoted to some of the truly wonderful facts about living things. As a curmudgeon, though I can see the upside, I also wonder if the downside – at least, at the high school level – is not greater than the upside.

At any rate: I don’t think I ever had the sense that I’d been taught that science had all the answers. I was very curious about human evolution and in later years would read things like Donald Johanson’s books, and in those books it became quite evident that we did NOT have all the answers, but that our answers were becoming better refined and focused with the improvement in the evidence itself from new discoveries and with the improvement in methods of analysis.

Creationism was something which I thought had been dead, effectively, for decades, with the Scopes trial being a kind of last hoorah. I was horrified when a girl at school turned up with a copy of some book – it might have been Henry Morris, or something else – about creationist geology, as I had imagined that this was not the kind of battle for the soul of civilization with which I would ever have to trouble myself.


Origins of what, exactly? That seems hopelessly vague.

9 posts were split to a new topic: Evolution, Creationism, and the Soul of Civilization

13 posts were split to a new topic: Roels and Evolution

No, creation science is not science and will never be science, it is at best pseudoscience. Creationism is religion and is unconstitutional to be even mentioned in public schools by teachers, administrators or BOEs.


No, you got this case wrong. The case has nothing to do with origins or whether evolution is a good explanation for origins. This case was about whether the government (the Dover BOE) can inject religion (in the form of creationism or ID) into the public schools where the children are a captive audience. This case would have had the same result if the Dover BOE was trying to inject Biologos’ version of Theistic Evolution ala Dr. Francis Collins. TE, like ID, YEC, and OEC, is creationism, religion and not science. And the government can’t favor religion over any other religion or non-religion in the public schools.

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