Dover, ID, legislating from the Bench and the Tyranny of Belief December 22, 2005Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Liberal Hypocrisy, Mechanistic Relativism, Politics.
So Judge Jones has allowed the 11 complaining families in Dover, NH to abrogate the caveat challenging the total validity of Evolution as taught in their biology classes. As far as Dover itself is concerned; whoop-de-doo. But, apparently the Judge went beyond the concerns of Dover and wrote a scathing ruling designed to insure that no other school district in the country can adopt any such measure in the future.
First Things calls this sort of ruling "the judicial usurpation of politics." And they are correct in doing so. But here I am going to attempt to show that Jones not only usurped local, municipal authority as well as that of state and federal legislatures, I intend to provide a framework showing that Judge Jones actually endorsed a religion in his ruling. How? Stay tuned.
Before we begin, let us define some terms.
Religion from Dictionary.com:
1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Note the bold text. That is the definition that will define the term for this essay.
A theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.
The entire definition will serve admirably, thought note the bold type. It comes into play later on.
n : a modern Darwinian theory that explains new species in terms of genetic mutations.
Note this seems to contradict the bold line from the definition of Darwinism. Much of the essay will revolve around this seeming contradiction.
Irreducible Complexity (or irreducibly complex systems) from Darwin's Black Box:
a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.
There are any number of Intelligent Design sites out there where one can get a handle on the theory as presented. Similarly, there are many sites devoted to its debunking. I am going to present my own read on Intelligent Design that is not explicitly stated in the current debate (at least, I have not seen it):
Intelligent Design (ID) holds that some type of First Cause is involved in the creation of life on earth. It may work in conjunction with Darwinism and Natural Selection, but does not claim that these mechanisms are the sole means of explanation for life on earth. It does not claim that the First Cause is the Monotheitic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
In short, ID can embrace both evolution and "creationism" in the sense of the latter as some-THING set things in motion, and evolution may well be the (or one of the) mechanisms that this some-THING put into play.
Detractors of ID, including Judge Jones, insist that such a claim violates good science; that it injects religion into the science (especially the biology) classroom. I have yet to see a genuine ID proponent on the level of Michael Behe claim that it is the Judeo-Christian god that is the designer behind it all, so I fail to see how this is an embracing of religion. If anything, it simply states that we do not know who/what is responsible, only that some-WHO or -WHAT is. In short, it refuses to admit that blind chance is responsible for life on earth. To claim simply that "we do not know what causes this. It could well be an outside agency" is a LONG way from saying: "We think that Christianity should rule the three branches of US government". But in the end, this latter claim more closely resembles the ruling of Jones than the former. Yet the former is in truth, what ID claims.
While it is the evolutionists, specifically the neo-Darwinists, that insist it all is due to blind chance.
And here is the core of the conflict. Boil it all down and it comes down to this:
ID: Something other than chance is responsible for life on earth.
Neo-Darwinist (ND):Chance and chance alone was responsible for life on earth.
Undergirding both positions are opposing philosophical assertions:
ID: God is Real.
Neo-Darwinism: There is no God.
Hence the tremendous kerfuffle. ID detractors say that IDer's dare to reintroduce God into the science classroom, where He has been safely ejected from since the Scopes trial.
Practically speaking, there is little need for such tremendous negative response. As mentioned above, ID makes no claim as to the identity of the Designer. But Neo-Darwinists refuse to allow even the hint of uncertainty to enter the debate, because to do so opens the door to what they fear the most: That a Designer DOES in fact exist, and they are quick to leap to the conclusion that this deisgner MUST be God. Now, the reasons for this basic atheism are myriad and not to be entered into here. But it is important to remember that this belief that God does NOT exist is central to the issue at hand.
And it is that very belief that leads to my conclusion that Judge Jones has in fact ruled in favor of a religion. An entirely secular one.
ND has always claimed that science is on their side. That they claim knowledge and certainty from naturalistic observation and through replicative experimentation. Whereas ID and its supposed predecessor creationism works solely on belief -never scientifically substantiated- that God created all, possibly even in the seven-day work week.
Yet science leaves a couple of interesting holes for the committed NDer to explain. Two examples:
1. The lack of many transitional species in the fossil record. Recall that Darwin originally stated that current biological species came about from "the natural selection of small, inherited variations". The lack of numerous transitional species that would seem to be necessary for the evolution into many current species is signficantly challenged by this reality. The solution offered are as follows:
a): We simply have not completed the fossil record (oddly enough, this one is not in fashion)
b): The changes are actually due to significant mutations in between species.
b) is the reason formally adopted by NDers to explain the problem. It allows them to maintain their grip on total secularism, while not repuduiating their saint in Darwin. But this assertion has one serious flaw in it: It is pure speculation. There are no examples of this radical mutation occuring in nature. If there were, you had better believe that this discovery would have been trumpeted to the heavens by NDers as the Final Nail in the creationish coffin.
But the evidence is not there. Random, radical mutation is a simple belief, with no support either in the fossil record or in experimentation (and one would think that experimentation would be conducted in this arena).
(The suggestion, as cleverly illustrated by Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury that antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in hospital environments is an example of this mutation is misleading. These bacteria do not exist due to extreme mutation. They exist through simple natural selection. One must remember that bacteria go through hundreds of not thousands of generations per year, allowing for much swifter response to a changing environment than complex, multi-celled creatures, beginning with plants. Bacteria have not mutated, they have evolved.)
Mutation is a belief in the ND cosmology.
The second example is the existence of irreducibly complex systems in nature. There are myriad examples; flagellum in bacteria, wing systems, the poison secretion system in the bombardier beetle. Even the existence of the cell itself is in many ways irreducibly complex. How does the cell, the basic unit of life, spontaneously develop the necessary items for existence: A membrane, nucleus, DNA package and means of sustenance? A highly complex system.
NDers attempt to dismiss this notion as unworkable. "Complex systems are really not that complex" is the essential refrain. If true, then let us see the evidence. Show how these systems evolve in the world. Or again, better still, shows us in the lab. Establish the environment where cells started out, and let's see them come about.
This, too, is not to be found. If it were, you had best believe, once again, that such a discovery would be trumpted to the heavens, as this would be the stake in the heart of ID.
But simply claiming that irreducible systems do not exist is akin to claiming that the sky is actually red, while our senses clearly tell us otherwise.
For the NDer, irreducibly complex systems do not exist. Despite their obvious existence, NDers insist that they do not. The non-existence of irreducibly complex systems is simply a matter of belief in the NDer cosmology.
In looking at the ND response to holes in the fossil record and irreducibly complex systems, NDers forsake their previous adherence to radical empirical evidence. They begin to recite cant, belief. "These concepts cannot exist, because they repudiate our belief in evolution. Because we believe evolution to be true, these concepts must not exist." But these are not empirical data points. These are bald assertions, beliefs masquerading -badly- as scientific facts.
When one boils down the ND position, one finds that they rely very heavily upon likely scientific theory liberally sprinkled with random beliefs that support holes or outright contradictions in their belief system.
Let us revisit that definition of religion: "A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion." For NDers, the cause or principle involved is the denial of a Designer, and evolution, however flawed it may be, serves as the primary apologist for their belief. And it is taught, by government fiat, in science classes across the nation. To say that slavish devotion to evolution -sans a possible higher power- is science is no better than claiming that raw creationism is science. Both are predicated on belief, not "fact".
All I am suggesting is that science teachers -and districts- be allowed to put out there the possibility -nothing more- that a higher power is responsible for life on earth.
So long as ND relies upon the belief that holes in the fossil record will be proven true later on, or that irreducibly complex systems will eventually be proven to have evolved is no better than claiming that the Book of Revelation shows how and when the world will end.
Both are cant.
Both are belief.
Both are religion.
So, I call on Justice Jones to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools, based on the current priniciple of separation of church and state. In this case, the Church of Radical Secularism, the belief that God cannot exist.
Am I being ironic? Yes. Purposely. Evolution is a valuable means of understanding the mechanisms of life. But it does nothing to explain first causes. ND's claim to "truth", so long as they continue to blindly assert truths with no scientific basis in fact, in the end is based in as much science as creationism.