Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Kosky rules intelligent design a faith, etc

Here are two ID news items from Australia, with my comments in square brackets.

Kosky rules intelligent design a faith, The [Melbourne] Age, October 29, 2005, Shane Green ... Victoria's government schools will treat intelligent design as a religious faith, not science, Education Minister Lynne Kosky has ruled. In her first statement on the subject, Ms Kosky reaffirmed the principle that government schools were secular and did not promote any religion. She said the two areas in which religion could be discussed were optional religious education lessons and VCE studies comparing religions. "In line with the above principles, schools can decide whether to offer intelligent design as part of religious instruction," Ms Kosky said. "Parents will be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from the lesson." Intelligent design argues that gaps in Darwin's theory of evolution point to an "intelligent designer" of life. Supporters of the theory, which include US President George Bush argue that the theory is scientific. Critics call it creationism in another guise. Last week a coalition representing 70,000 Australian scientists and teachers likened it to the flat-earth theory. ... [Kosky is wrong about "intelligent design" being "a religious faith, not science." For starters, ID "is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences", not on the Bible:

"Q.[Mr Muise] Sir, what is intelligent design? A.[Prof. Behe] Intelligent design is a scientific theory that proposes that some aspects of life are best explained as the result of design, and that the strong appearance of design in life is real and not just apparent. Q. Now Dr. Miller defined intelligent design as follows: Quote, Intelligent design is the proposition that some aspects of living things are too complex to have been evolved and, therefore, must have been produced by an outside creative force acting outside the laws of nature, end quote. Is that an accurate definition? A. No, it's a mischaracterization. Q. Why is that? A. For two reasons. One is, understandable, that Professor Miller is viewing intelligent design from the perspective of his own views and sees it simply as an attack on Darwinian theory. And it is not that. It is a positive explanation. And the second mischaracterization is that, intelligent design is a scientific theory. Creationism is a religious, theological idea. And that intelligent design is -- relies rather on empirical and physical and observable evidence plus logical inferences for its entire argument. Q. Is intelligent design based on any religious beliefs or convictions? A. No, it isn't. Q. What is it based on? A. It is based entirely on observable, empirical, physical evidence from nature plus logical inferences." (Behe M.J., Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Transcript, October 17, 2005, morning session)

But I (and I am sure the ID movement would be happy that ID was taught anywhere in public schools, provided that it was not compulsory (i.e. "Parents will be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from the lesson.") and teachers were happy doing so. I am confident that if the DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life is shown, even "as part of religious instruction," it will set a ball rolling such that the Darwinists will be forced to counter it in science classes! Also, in Australia a lot of parents (even non-religious ones) have withdrawn their children from public schools because of their lack of values, and enrolled them in private schools where they will learn about intelligent design (see also next item). Going on USA polls that the majority of parents want their children to learn alternatives to the theory of evolution (including ID), I am sure that the same applies in Australia and so there will be competitive pressure on public schools to also teach ID.]

School backs intelligent design DVD, The [Melbourne] Age, Shane Green, October 28, 2005 ... THE head of one of Australia's leading private schools says he supports discussion of the contentious theory of intelligent design in secondary schools. Tim Hawkes, headmaster of The King's School in Sydney, has warned against gagging debate in schools on the theory, which argues that gaps in Darwin's theory of evolution point to an "intelligent designer" of life. Dr Hawkes has reviewed a DVD on intelligent design for the Campus Crusade for Christ, which plans to distribute thousands of copies to Australian secondary schools in the next few months. In his review, Dr Hawkes said educators should not fear using the DVD, called Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which he said had a "legitimate case to put to students, and indeed, to humankind". "There are undeniable weaknesses within Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and these must be acknowledged honestly," he wrote. "Failure to do so would mean an abrogation of our responsibility as educators." Dr Hawkes said it was "quite legitimate to challenge students to think through the implications of there being a 'grand architect' of the universe". He argued that how the DVD was used should be the preserve of the principal and teachers. But he said it would be a shame if the DVD was "forever shackled" within the religious education faculty, arguing it should be used within the science faculty and others that explored theory and scientific assumptions. Dr Hawkes warned that distribution by Christian groups might compromise its acceptance, and said there should be a transparent revelation of those behind the DVD. The King's School, Australia's oldest independent school, is Anglican and widely regarded as the nation's most prestigious. Dr Hawkes' entry into the debate coincides with a push by a coalition representing 70,000 scientists and science teachers to prevent the teaching of intelligent design in science classes. In an open letter last week, they likened it to teaching the flat earth theory. "Of all places, schools should be allowed to explore ideas and theories," Dr Hawkes told The Age yesterday. "If we're all of a sudden going to get precious and say, 'Well hang on, exploring this theory, this suggestion, is not to be allowed', then in fact I think we are being dishonest as educators." Dr Hawkes supported the use of the DVD at his school, but said it would be shown only to senior students, because of the concepts and language it used. Bill Hodgson, head of Campus Crusade for Christ, said his group was working on a distribution plan for the DVDs. "It seems all the more important now that educators have the right to form their own opinion with first-hand assessment, rather than being told what to think by those who in many cases haven't even seen the DVD." ... [This is very important when the head of "Australia's oldest independent school [and] the nation's most prestigious" supports discussion of ID in secondary (i.e. high) schools, even "within the science faculty"! Hawkes hits the nail on the head that it is being "dishonest as educators" for them to say, "exploring this theory, this suggestion, is not to be allowed"!' But I am not surprised at this surge in support for teaching ID in in Australian schools. Unlike the USA, there is no legal impediment to teaching ID in Australian schools, and "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" is dynamite!]

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

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