Saturday, October 01, 2005

Faith and Reason Compatible, Scientist Testifies, etc

Here are my comments [in square brackets] on articles on the second day (Tuesday, September 27) of the Dover intelligent design trial, Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover School District, et al. Again, I have tried to eliminate duplications and topics that have already been mentioned. I have added more information below about Ken Miller's widely reported claim that he "missed that reference by a co-author" "in a 1995 biology textbook he co-wrote that said evolution was `random and undirected.'"

Faith and Reason Compatible, Scientist Testifies, Livescience/AP, 27 September 2005 ... HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- An expert witness who has sharply criticized the teaching of an idea that a higher power -- rather than evolution -- created life testified Tuesday that faith and reason are compatible. Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller returned to the stand for the second day of a landmark trial to determine whether a school district should require students to hear about an idea called "intelligent design." Intelligent design implies that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force, and Darwin's theory of natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms. Miller, who testified on Monday that intelligent design was not accepted by scientists, was asked by a school attorney whether faith and reason are compatible. "I believe not only that they are compatible but that they are complimentary," said Miller, who earlier told the court he was a practicing Roman Catholic. Miller also backed off a statement in a 1995 biology textbook he co-wrote that said evolution was "random and undirected." Miller said he missed that reference by a co-author and that he did not believe evolution was random and undirected. ... [Miller's reported claim that he "missed that reference by a co-author" in his "1995 biology textbook" that "evolution was `random and undirected" is simply unbelievable. Textbooks are checked and rechecked by not just the authors but by many other reviewers, and a definition of "evolution" is a major topic. So it beggars belief that Miller as a co-author could have "missed that reference". Especially since, according to Jonathan Wells, it was still in his 2000 edition:
"As we have seen, the doctrine that evolution was undirected, and consequently that human existence is a mere accident, is rooted in materialistic philosophy rather than empirical science. The doctrine existed long before the meager evidence now cited to justify it. Since the doctrine is very influential in our culture, it is a good idea to teach students about it-but as philosophy, not science. Yet Miller and Levine's high school textbook, Biology, teaches students that as they learn about "the nature of life" they must "keep this concept in mind: Evolution is random and undirected." [Miller K.R. & Levine J.S., "Biology," Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River NJ, Fifth Edition, 2000), p. 658] (emphasis in the original)":" (Wells J., "Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth?: Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong," Regnery: Washington DC, 2000, p.206)
Indeed, at the American Scientific Affiliation in August 1995 Miller pledged to remove the phrases "evolution is without plan or purpose" and "evolution is random and undirected" from his biology textbook:
"A very good example of confusing science with philosophy involves the definitions of the term `evolution.' In a popular high school biology text (Biology, Miller and Levine, Prentice-Hall, 1993-2000 editions), the term evolution is defined as `the process by which modern organisms have descended from ancient organisms; any change in the relative frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.' In the same biology book the authors instruct that `evolution is without plan or purpose' and "evolution is random and undirected" (p. 658). ... In spite of author Kenneth Miller's pledge to the American Scientific Affiliation in August of 1995 to remove the phrases that `evolution is without plan or purpose' and `evolution is random and undirected' because they represent ideology masquerading as science, this identical language reappeared in the 1998 and 2000 editions" (Anderson J., "Dealing with the Media in the Science Textbook Controversy," Access Research Network, January 28, 2000.)
This appears to have been a debate with Mike Behe at the ASA's 1995 Annual Meeting:
"This is my report on the recent (July 23 [1995]) ASA Behe/Miller debate about the book Of Pandas and People. Actually, I'll have much more to say about my conversations with Ken Miller than about the debate itself. Like Mike Behe, I'd judge the debate a draw, or, perhaps more accurately, a stalemate. Ken wanted to hear how we (the design guys) explained the fossil record and earth history, and we wanted Ken to explain how complex biological systems evolved. Because neither Mike nor I had much to say about the fossil record, and because Ken pled ignorance about the actual mechanisms of evolution, I think the audience was left in some frustration (or confusion). Pandas took some genuine hits from Ken, but none, I think, that would sink the book. Certainly (as Mike pointed out), Ken's own textbook Biology (Prentice-Hall) has problems - some of which Ken very honorably offered to fix in the next edition - and I think nearly all the problems Ken mentioned with Pandas are reparable, without affecting the book's distinctive intelligent design thesis." (Nelson P.A., "A Report on the ASA Conference Debate on Pandas and People Textbook," Access Research Network, September 1, 1995)
"For example, when Michael and I engaged in debate at the 1995 meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, I argued that the 100% match of DNA sequences in the pseudogene region of beta-globin was proof that humans and gorillas shared a recent common ancestor. To my surprise, Behe said that he shared that view, and had no problem with the notion of common ancestry." (Miller K.R., "Review of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box," Creation/Evolution, Vol. 16, pp.36-40, 1996. National Center for Science Education, May 20, 2003).
In fact the statement that "evolution is random and undirected" in Miller & Levine's 1995 biology textbook was quoted in the Alabama biology textbook insert controversy:
"The greatest failures of the texts are that philosophical assumptions are not identified, and that such assumptions are treated as `scientific knowledge'. An unwarranted world view is presented to students under the color of scientific authority and knowledge. The following quotations illustrate this problem:
`We can learn a great deal about the nature of life by comparing body systems among invertebrate groups and by tracing the patterns of change as we move from one phylum to another. As we do so, it is important to keep this concept in mind: Evolution is random and undirected. ...In many ways, each animal phylum represents an experiment in the design of body structures to perform the tasks necessary for survival. Of course, there has never been any kind of plan to these experiments because evolution works without either plan or purpose' (Biology, Miller Levine, Prentice Hall, 1995, p. 658)."
(Anderson N., "The Alabama Insert: A Call for Impartial Science," May 15, 1996. Access Research Network, May 14, 1996).
which Miller actually responded to, including the criticism that "Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things," in a document that is actually on his website:
"Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things. This statement is false on two accounts. Evolution is not a `random' process, and to characterize it as such seriously misleads students. Natural selection, the most important force driving evolutionary change, is not random at all, but an observable, verifiable process that fine-tunes variation in populations of a species to the demands of the environment in which they live. It is true, of course, that variation in a species arises from sources such as mutation and sexual recombination, which are inherently unpredictable. Therefore evolution, like any historical process, can be influenced by random forces. But a larger problem with this statement is the attribution to evolution of an idea outside of science. Whether evolution is `undirected' or `directed' is a matter of theology or philosophy, not of science. Writers of the disclaimer wish students, most of whom are religious, to believe that acceptance of evolution is incompatible with faith. This is demonstrably false: far too many scientists (and clergy) accept both evolution and a God who creates through evolution. Students should not be taught the evolution equates with atheism, and, incredibly, that is exactly what this portion of the disclaimer says." (Miller K.R., "Dissecting the Alabama Disclaimer." My italics substituted for bold in original)
And as for he "did not believe evolution was random and undirected," that is precisely what the "random" in "random mutation" means: undirected:
"There is a fifth respect in which mutation might have been nonrandom. We can imagine (just) a form of mutation that was systematically biased in the direction of improving the animal's adaptedness to its life. But although we can imagine it, nobody has ever come close to suggesting any means by which this bias could come about. It is only in this fifth respect, the 'mutationist' respect, that the true, real-life Darwinian insists that mutation is random. Mutation is not systematically biased in the direction of adaptive improvement, and no mechanism is known (to put the point mildly) that could guide mutation in directions that are non-random in this fifth sense. Mutation is random with respect to adaptive advantage, although it is non-random in all sorts of other respects. It is selection, and only selection, that directs evolution in directions that are nonrandom with respect to advantage." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," [1986], Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.312. Emphasis in original).
Besides, here are quotes from Miller's 1999 book, "Finding Darwin's God" where he states that "evolution is ... a chance, random process":
"For many religious people, here lies the problem with evolution. No matter how much experimental or historical evidence can be marshaled to support it, evolution is still a chance, random process." (Miller K.R., "Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution," [1999], HarperCollins: New York NY, 2000, reprint, p.233)
that "evolution is subject to chance and unpredictability" and has "no obvious purpose or single goal":
"Biological history, just like human history, is a contingent process. The chance extinction of a rare species can profoundly affect the course of evolution in the same way that the unexpected death of a single person could change political or economic history ... Evolution answers the question of chance and purpose in exactly the same way that history answers questions about the course of human events. To a biologist, evolution is subject to chance and unpredictability, just like human history. Its outcome is uncertain, and likely to be unrepeatable, just like human history. And evolution admits to no obvious purpose or single goal, just like human history. " (Ibid, p.237. Emphasis in original)
that even the "events leading to the evolution of the human species" were not "predestined":
"Considering the events in natural history that led to our own emergence on this planet, we can ask whether events leading to the evolution of the human species had to come out the same way? Did the ancestors of vertebrates have to survive the Cambrian? Did mammals have to evolve from the vertebrates? Did one group of mammals, the primates, have to take to the trees? Was one tiny African branch of these tree climbers absolutely predestined to survive and give rise to Homo sapiens? The answer in every case is no." (Ibid, p.235. Emphasis in original)
and that "the Creator" would have to wait until "sooner or later it [evolution] would have given [Him] ... exactly what He was looking for ... a creature ... like us":
"Would God's purpose have been realized if evolution had turned out, a little differently? How can we say for sure? But this much I think is clear: Given evolution's ability to adapt, to innovate, to test, and to experiment, sooner or later it would have given the Creator exactly what He was looking for-a creature who, like us, could know Him and love Him, could perceive the heavens and dream of the stars, a creature who would eventually discover the extraordinary process of evolution that filled His earth with so much life." (Ibid, pp.238-239)
This last BTW is patently self-contradictory. It is simply false that "a chance, random process" would "sooner or later" (given the resource and time constraints in our finite universe) produce "a creature ... like us", and Miller as a biology professor must know that. Miller reminds me of what the geneticist Darlington wrote about Darwin:
"Darwin was slippery" employing "a flexible strategy which is not to be reconciled with even average intellectual integrity" (Darlington C.D., "Darwin's Place in History," Basil Blackwell: Oxford, 1959, p.60).
If Miller has been correctly reported as testifying under oath that "he missed that reference by a co-author" "in a 1995 biology textbook he co-wrote that said evolution was `random and undirected,'" then it is difficult to see how he could escape a charge of perjury here. I hope the ID side's lawyers grill him over this.]

Witness cites school board's anti-evolution bias, MSNBC/AP, Religion behind intelligent design policy, former board member says, September 27, 2005 HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Dover school board showed a clear bias against teaching Darwinian evolution before it voted to require students to be exposed to "intelligent design" in science class, a former board member testified Tuesday. The testimony about the school board's intentions came on the second day of a trial over whether the intelligent-design concept has a place in public schools. Aralene "Barrie" Callahan, who was once on the board of the Dover Area School District and is now among its challengers, said she believed the intelligent-design mandate was religion-based. Callahan testified that board member Alan Bonsell - during a retreat in 2003 - "expressed he did not believe in evolution and if evolution was part of the biology curriculum, creationism had to be shared 50-50." At a school board meeting in June 2004, when she was no longer on the board, Callahan recalled board member Bill Buckingham complaining that a biology book recommended by the administration was "laced with Darwinism." "They were pretty much downplaying evolution as something that was credible," she said. In the lawsuit challenging the intelligent design policy, Buckingham was further quoted as saying: "This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such." ... In a separate development Tuesday, two freelance newspaper reporters who covered the school board in June 2004 both invoked their First Amendment rights and declined to provide a deposition to lawyers for the school district. Both are expected in court Wednesday to respond to a subpoena to testify at trial, said Niles Benn, a lawyer for the papers. Lawyers for the school district have questioned the accuracy of articles in which the reporters wrote that board members discussed creationism during public meetings. Patrick Gillen, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, said the defense would ask U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III on Wednesday to issue a contempt citation. In other testimony Tuesday, plaintiff Tammy Kitzmiller said that in January, her younger daughter chose not to hear the intelligent-design statement - an option given all students - putting her in an awkward position. "My 14-year-old daughter had to make the choice between staying in the classroom and being confused ... or she had to be singled out and face the possible ridicule of her friends and classmates," she said ... [I would have thought that a 1-minute statement would not be too hard for Ms Kitzmiller's daughter to endure! These attempts to show that the Dover board are motivated by anti-Darwinism and Christian creationism will presumably fail, because what matters is whether: 1) ID itself is inherently religious and cannot have a "secular purpose"; and 2) criticism of Darwin's theory cannot have a "secular purpose". Remember that Judge Jones had already ruled that that was the issue, when he decided that there should be a trial:
"In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III denied Dover's request for summary judgment to throw out a case filed against the district by 11 parents over the intelligent design inclusion. He wrote that `genuine issues of material fact exist regarding as to whether the challenged policy has a secular purpose and whether the policy's principal or primary effect advances or inhibits religion." (Lebo L., "Lawsuit over intelligent design moves forward, York Daily Record, September 14, 2005)
Indeed, it seems suicidal of the evolution side to have Miller (and as we shall see the theologian Haught) claiming that evolution and religion are compatible, because how then could anti-evolution be pro-religion? Indeed, this question of "whether faith and reason are compatible" was "asked by a school attorney", i.e. by the pro-ID defence, so it sounds like they set a trap for Miller, which he has fallen into!]

Trial over 'intelligent design' resumes, CNews, Martha Raffaele September 27, 2005 ... HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The opening day of a landmark trial over whether a school district should require students to hear about "intelligent design" felt a lot like a science lecture. Brown University biologist Kenneth Miller, the first witness called Monday by lawyers suing the Dover Area School District for exposing its students to the controversial theory, sprinkled his testimony with references to DNA, red blood cells and viruses, and he occasionally referred to complex charts on a projection screen. Even U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III was a little overwhelmed. "I guess I should say, 'Class dismissed,'" Jones mused before recessing for lunch. ... [I wonder if Miller overdid it here?]

Parents challenge US 'intelligent design' teaching, The Guardian, Julian Borger, September 27, 2005, Harrisburg ... The civil trial, triggered last year by a classroom battle, marks the beginning of the first major legal assault on evolution science in 18 years. The case also represents the first legal test of "intelligent design", the belief that life on earth is too complex to be explained by random genetic mutation and therefore a guiding force must be involved. In yesterday's court hearings, supporters argued "intelligent design" does not stipulate what that guiding force might be, and is therefore not a religion. Its opponents derided it as a mere repackaging of creationism, the religious dogma that God brought life into being in its present form a few thousand years ago. It is a test of strength which secularist organisations hope will prove decisive in destroying the scientific credibility of intelligent design once and for all. They are therefore determined to pursue it as far as the supreme court if necessary. Witold Walczak, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) arguing the case yesterday, told the Guardian before the trial: "It's the first vigorous review of intelligent design. They have so far refused to enter the forum where scientists publish their theories." ... The plaintiffs ... legal team, backed by ACLU, launched an assault on intelligent design, describing it as a "clever, tactical repacking of creationism", which the supreme court ruled in 1987 could not be taught alongside evolution. "It is a wedge strategy to overturn the rules of science," argued Eric Rothschild, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs. "It's creationism with the words God and Bible left out. Intelligent design is not science in its infancy. It's not science at all." ... In his opening statement yesterday, Pat Gillan, the lead attorney for the defence, argued the case was "about freedom in education, not about a religious agenda". Pointing out that the Dover statement asked school children to keep "an open mind", Mr Gillan said: "The primary effect of the policy would be to advance science education. "It is not religion. Intelligent design is really science in its purest form - a refusal to close avenues of exploration in favour of a dominant theory." ... [Notice how the Darwinists make out it this case is a "major legal assault on evolution science". But in fact it is the Darwinists who are the plaintiff mounting the "major legal assault" on ID, the defence, not the other way around. And it is simply false that ID has "so far refused to enter the forum where scientists publish their theories." As I pointed out to a local newspaper: "Prof. Behe has several times submitted ID research papers to peer-reviewed scientific journals, only to have them rejected with no explanation.[9]" and "Also, recently ID geophysicist-philosopher Stephen Meyer managed to have a paper published on the Cambrian explosion in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.[10] However, after the paper had been published, Darwinists forced it to be withdrawn[11] and then hounded the editor who published it, Dr Richard Sternberg, from his job.[12]" It is simply false that ID is a "clever, tactical repacking of creationism:" after "the supreme court ruled in 1987 [creationism] could not be taught alongside evolution". Apart from the fact that "creationism" is based on the Bible and ID is based solely on the evidence of nature, ID actually started in 1984, well before that 1987 Supreme Court ruling. The ID defence makes a good (if not decisive) point that "the Dover statement asked school children to keep `an open mind'" which is "science in its purest form" unlike the Darwinists' attempt to "close [down] avenues of exploration in favour of a dominant theory"!]

Darwin vs God case opens in US, The Australian, September 28, 2005 ... Pat Gillen, a lawyer for the Dover school district, said intelligent design was anchored in science and was not creationism in disguise. He also rejected the accusation that it was unconstitutional to teach the theory to students. "They (the Dover students) are merely made aware of the existence of another theory," Mr Gillen said. Teaching intelligent design "helps students grasp the controversy that surrounds science". Devoid of any reference to the Bible or the divine, intelligent design so far has skirted the constitutional ban on advancing religious beliefs in public school classrooms. ... [Another good point by the defence. The Dover Board is not teaching ID, all it is doing is letting students know that there are ID reference materials in the library.]

Religion Drove Board, Witness Says, Los Angeles Times September 28, 2005 ... Through the testimony of Rehm and Callahan, attorneys for the plaintiffs hoped to establish that some board members were motivated primarily by religious, not educational, considerations when they approved their new policy on biology. Not so, said Robert Thompson, lead counsel for the defense, after court Tuesday. "A policy can have a religious motivation as long as that is not the primary motivation," said Thompson, one of three attorneys from the Christian-oriented Thomas More Law Center .... Reiterating the defense position that the board's prime goal was "good pedagogy" by exposing students to differing views, he said, "It is a bottomless pit once you start looking at motivation." Nonetheless, attorneys for the parents, a team assembled by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, pounded away at those motivations Tuesday. Callahan, mother of an 11th-grader at Dover High, testified that during a school board retreat in March 2003, fellow board member Alan Bonsell "expressed he did not believe in evolution and also said that if evolution was part of the biology curriculum, creationism had to be shared 50-50." Rehm, a teacher at Dover at the time, said Bonsell had told him that evolution was "against his religious views" and that Bonsell particularly was concerned about the idea of "monkeys to man." During a court recess, Bonsell, who owns an auto repair business in nearby York, said a lot of the statements attributed to him were inaccurate. "They're accusing us that this is religion, and it isn't," Bonsell, 45, said. "This is a one-minute statement, a one-minute statement. We're not teaching kids intelligent design, we're making kids aware of it," Bonsell said. Callahan said that although the budget for the purchase of a new textbook, "Biology," long had been approved, the board deliberately delayed for more than a year approving the actual purchase because members openly sought a book that included creationism with evolution theory. ... [Bonsell makes a good point. The Board in fact is "not teaching kids intelligent design" but "making kids aware of it." Maybe this where the issue is going to be decided, whether the "religious motivation" is deemed to be "the primary motivation" rather than "`good pedagogy' by exposing students to differing views"? But if the Board members state under oath that religion was not in this case their "primary motivation" (it would not be the first time that individuals with a set of priorities as private citizens, change the order of their priorities when they assume public office) and how could a judge not give them the benefit of the doubt? They may (and almost certainly do) genuinely believe that evolution is false and ID is true (and polls show they would be in good company with a substantial minority - if not the majority - of the general public). And as for "a bottomless pit once you start looking at motivation" what about the evolution side's "religious [including anti-religious] motivation"?]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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