Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Judge bans teaching intelligent design #2

[Continued from part #1]

Judge Expels Intelligent Design, CBS, HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 20, 2005(CBS/AP) In one of the biggest courtroom clashes between faith and evolution since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania public school district Tuesday from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise. ... [If Judge Jones really said that (I haven't yet read his ruling) then he is simply wrong. Creationism is based on the Bible but ID is based on the evidence of nature.]

... Jones ... accused several board members of lying to conceal their true motive, which he said was to promote religion. [While I don't condone those Dover board members who tried to evade admitting that they were motivated by Christianity and creationism, the real fault is in a legal system that puts pressure on them to hide their motives. Especially when Christianity (and therefore some form of "creationism") is true.]

A six-week trial over the issue yielded "overwhelming evidence" establishing that intelligent design "is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory," said Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer appointed to the federal bench three years ago. [Jones is simply wrong and going beyond the evidence presented in his court that ID is "a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory." I won't comment on his being a "churchgoer" except to say that there are plenty of "churchgoers" in the USA who are rightly opposed to the excesses of "creationism" which they then wrongly transfer to ID.]

The school system said it will probably not appeal the ruling, because the members who backed intelligent design were ousted in November's elections and replaced with a new slate opposed to the policy. [That then seems to be the end of legal action to oppose the teaching of State-sanctioned atheism under the guise of evolution. If so, it would confirm that the USA is no longer a Christian nation, and it would also confirm my amillennial interpretation that we are well into "Satan's little season":

"The Final Conflict ... ([Rev 20:7-10]: The meaning, then, is this: the era during which the Church as a mighty missionary organization shall be able to spread the gospel everywhere is not going to last for ever; not even until the moment of Christ's second coming. Observe what is happening in certain countries even today. Are certain regions of this earth already entering Satan's little season?' In other words, we have here in Revelation 20:7-10 a description of the same battle- not 'war'-which was described in Revelation 16:12ff. and in Revelation 19:19. In all three cases we read in the original, the battle. Thus 16:14: 'to gather them together for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty'. Again, Revelation 19:19: 'gathered together to make the battle against him....' Similarly, here in 20:8: 'to gather them together to the battle'. In other words, these are not three different battles. We have here one and the same battle. It is the battle of Har-Magedon in all three cases. It is the final attack of antichristian forces upon the Church. The 'new' thing which Revelation 20 reveals is what happens to Satan as a result of this battle. This final onslaught is directed against 'the beloved city', also called 'the camp of the saints'. Thus the Church of God is described here under the double symbolism of a city and a camp. 'And fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.' Notice the sudden character of this judgment upon Gog and Magog. It is as sudden and unexpected as the lightning which strikes from heaven (cf. 2 Thes. 2:8). Thus, suddenly, will Christ appear and discomfit His enemies! This is His one and only coming in judgment. Satan had deceived the wicked world. He had deceived the wicked into thinking that a real and absolute victory over the Church was possible and that God could be defeated!" (Hendriksen W., "More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation," [1940], Tyndale Press: London, 1966, reprint, pp.194-195).
The anti-Christians may (and indeed will) win the battle ("of Har-Magedon") but they will lose the war!]

... But the judge said: "We find that the secular purposes claimed by the board amount to a pretext for the board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom." [This wrongly assumes that one cannot have legitimate "secular purpose" in criticizing evolution (which may be false) and advocating alternatives to it (which may be true), even if one is motivated by Christianity (which also may be - and in fact is - true).]

... "Clearly what the judge has said here is going to have ramifications all over the country, where intelligent design is a controversy," Bagnato reports. "This doesn't end the case," says ... Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "We almost certainly will see an appeal here and the ruling doesn't prevent any other school board in any other jurisdiction from trying to get Intelligent Design into public classrooms. But clearly this ruling is a sign that those efforts will not get any easier." [Actually, I disagree. I think this kills off forever any attempt to get ID "into public classrooms", in the USA. Personally I think that those who agree with ID and oppose evolution should abandon the public school system for private schools where both evolution and its problems and alternatives (including ID) can be taught without fear of State-sanctioned, legally enforced, thought-control.]

... In his ruling, Jones said that while intelligent design, or ID, arguments "may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science." [This is ridiculous. So students could be taught untruth (and not even be allowed to know what "may be true" (e.g. ID) in the name of "science"!]

Among other things, he said intelligent design "violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation"; it relies on "flawed and illogical" arguments; and its attacks on evolution "have been refuted by the scientific community." [Jones' here himself "relies on `flawed and illogical' arguments", because ID does not claim that the design in nature must be the result of "supernatural causation", but that it is the result of intelligent causation:

"There is an important contrast to keep in mind here. Science, we are told, studies natural causes whereas to introduce God is to invoke supernatural causes. This is the wrong contrast. The proper contrast is between undirected natural causes on the one hand and intelligent causes on the other. Intelligent causes can do things that undirected natural causes cannot. Undirected natural causes can throw scrabble pieces on a board but cannot arrange the pieces to form meaningful words or sentences. To obtain a meaningful arrangement requires an intelligent cause. Whether an intelligent cause operates within or outside nature (i.e., is respectively natural or supernatural) is a separate question from whether an intelligent cause has operated." (Dembski W.A., "Introduction," in Dembski W.A., ed., "Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1998, p.15)
He is also wrong in his claim that ID's "attacks on evolution "have been refuted by the scientific community." In fact one of the world's leading atheists, Antony Flew, recently abandoned atheism for deism, based solely on the evidence of nature, and admitted that "his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists":
"A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God -- more or less -- based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday. At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England. Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives. ... Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates. ... Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?" ... The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote. ... if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads." ... Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe. He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life. (Ostling R.N., "One of the world's leading atheists now believes in God, more or less," Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 2004).
As an editor of the Dallas Morning News asked, "If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?":
"An intellectual bombshell dropped last week when British professor Antony Flew, for decades one of the world's leading philosophers of atheism, publicly announced that he now affirms the existence of a deity. To be sure, Mr. Flew has not become an adherent of any creed. He simply believes that science points to the existence of some sort of intelligent designer of the universe. He says evidence from DNA research convinces him that the genetic structure of biological life is too complex to have evolved entirely on its own. Though the 81-year-old philosopher believes Darwinian theory explains a lot, he contends that it cannot account for how life initially began. We found this conversion interesting in light of last year's controversy regarding proposed revisions to the state's high school biology textbooks. Our view then was that while religion must be kept out of science classes, intellectual honesty demands that when science produces reliable data challenging the prevailing orthodoxies, students should be taught them. We were bothered by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin's statement that for scientists, materialism must be `absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.' That's called stacking the deck. Mr. Flew may be dead wrong, but it's refreshing to see that an academic of his stature is unafraid to let new facts change his mind. The philosopher told The Associated Press that if admirers are upset with his about-face, then `that's too bad. My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.' If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?" (Editorial, "An Atheist's Apostasy," The Dallas Morning News, December 15, 2004).
Now thanks to Judge Jones, across the entire USA, schoolchildren be taught about that scientific data for design in nature that was compelling enough to cause even Antony Flew to abandon atheism and embrace a minimal form of theism. They (and their parents) will have to rely on other sources of information (e.g. blogs like this) to get the other side of the story.]"The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources," he wrote. "What's striking about the language of this ruling is the harsh tone the judge had for proponents and defenders of Intelligent Design," says Cohen. [I agree that Judge Jones' is a "harsh tone". It sounds like he is a closet theistic evolutionist whose own anti-ID buttons are pushed by ID.] "In the end, clearly, he did not believe this was a close case, did not believe this was about anything other than trying to get religion into public school, and the ruling shows it." [Which is absurd. Clearly design could be true in its own right, irrespective of the issue of "trying to get religion into public school". That ID is not simply "religion" is evident in Judge Jones himself, who claims to be a "churchgoer", yet is opposed to ID.]

The judge also said: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy." [And what if they had openly admitted that they were motivated by their "their religious convictions"? They would have still been denied the right by Judge Jones and his ilk, to oppose evolution and propose ID. It was a catch-22, a no-win situation. And what about the "religious convictions" of those opposed to ID (and to Christianity and creationism)? Why are their anti- "religious convictions" regarded as constitutional? See previously on the USA's education system being now irrevocably effectively atheistic, i.e. a State-sanctioned practical atheism.] Former school board member William Buckingham, who advanced the policy, said ... that he still feels the board did the right thing. "I'm still waiting for a judge or anyone to show me anywhere in the Constitution where there's a separation of church and state," he said. "We didn't lose; we were robbed." [I agree with Buckingham. There is nothing in the USA Constitution itself about "a separation of church and state". Proof of that is that Australia's Constitution in Section 116 has an almost identical "establishment clause" to the USA's:

116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.
yet Australian courts have tended to interpret that literally and there is no such strict "separation of church and state" in Australia as in the USA.] ... The new school board president, Bernadette Reinking, said the board intends to remove intelligent design from the science curriculum and place it in an elective social studies class. "As far as I can tell you, there is no intent to appeal," she said... [The USA Constitution says nothing about "the science curriculum". If it is unconstitutional to teach ID is science classes, then it should be also unconstitutional to teach it "in an elective social studies class"!]

[Continued in part #3]

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

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