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Using the criteria of the Dover decision, would the Kansas Science Standards be declared unconstitutional?. Jack Krebs President: Kansas Citizens for Science Member: Kansas State Science Standards Writing Committee Assistant to Pedro Irigonegaray at the Kansas BOE “Science
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President: Kansas Citizens for Science
Member: Kansas State Science Standards Writing Committee
Assistant to Pedro Irigonegaray at the Kansas BOE “Science
Hearings”, May 2005
The Intelligent Design creationists say “No.”
They say the standards don’t mention Intelligent Design or religion. They just support “teaching the controversy” by teaching the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution.”
“Board Chairman Steve Abrams said the [Dover] ruling would have no effect on Kansas because the state’s new science standards don’t mention intelligent design.”(Lawrence Journal Worldhttp://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/dec/22/fueling_controversy/?editorials)
John West, Associate Director of the Discovery Institute, in response to a claim that the board of education voted that students should be exposed to critiques of evolution like intelligent design, wrote:
“Actually, the Board did no such thing. The Kansas science standards encourage students to learn about scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory. They do not ask for the teaching of alternatives to Darwin's theory such as intelligent design.”(Discovery Institutehttp://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/12/did_new_york_times_report_the.html)
My answer is “Yes.”
The Intelligent Design movement thinks they are “doing it right” in Kansas (unlike Dover), but I think they are wrong.
Using the criteria applied in the Dover decisions, I believe the Kansas Science Standards would be declared unconstitutional.
(But IANAL – I am not a lawyer.)
Before we look at the details, though, we need to ask this question:
What counts in making this judgment?
What evidence do we look at?
Just the actual words written in the standards?
Or the whole context?
The whole context counts.
“The [endorsement] test consists of the reviewing court determining what message a challenged governmental policy or enactment conveys to a reasonable, objective observer who knows the policy's language, origins, and legislative history, as well as the history of the community and the broader social and historical context in which the policy arose.”(Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 15)
Four main points:
1. The standards do expect teachers to teach “Intelligent Design”
2. The standards change the definition of science to include supernatural causation. The rationale for this is that science supports atheism, and therefore “design” must be included in order to provide balance by supporting theism. Note this is fundamentally an argument about religious belief.
3. The ID advocates reject and denounce the religious beliefs of Christians and other theists who accept evolution.
The ID advocates reject common descent - the conclusion that species, and especially humans, have evolved from other species. They are “special creationists.”
What did they do?, and why did they do it?
The writing committee standards describe the nature of science by stating,
“Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us….”(Draft 2b, page x.)Full statement
The Board changed this to
Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that …[leads] to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.(Board standards, page ix) Full statement
The Board also made the this addition (in bold) to the Mission Statement:
Kansas science education contributes to the preparation of all students as lifelong learners who can use science to make informed and reasoned decisions that contribute to their local, state, national and international communities.(Board standards, page iii)
Both these changes appear innocuous on the surface. But let’s look at the rationale the ID Minority offered for making these changes.
Science is atheistic because it seeks only naturalistic explanations
“Methodological naturalism effectively converts evolution into an irrefutable Ideology …. Naturalism is the fundamental tenet of non-theistic religions and belief systems like Secular Humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism.” (Minority Proposals)
The definition of science must be changed to allow “design”(aka “supernatural causation”) to be part of science
“The principle change here is to replace anaturalistic definition of science with a traditional definition. The current definition of science is intended to reflect a concept called methodological naturalism, which irrefutably assumes that cause‑and‑effect laws … are adequate to account for all phenomena and that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid.” (Minority Proposals)
Calvert to Bill Harris: Q. Does an inference of design entail a belief in a supernatural?
Bill Harris: Of course not. Everything you see in this room was designed by an intelligence for a purpose, that's not supernatural. We're talking about-- where supernatural comes into it is when we're talking about prehistory, origins, where did we come from.”(http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo1.html#p137)
“Nontheistic religions such as secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism are quite happy with science that seeks to remove any ‘supernatural’ influence from its explanations. So the right question is not "Is there a conflict between science and religion?" Rather, the question is more properly framed as ‘Is there a conflict between 'science' and theistic religions?’” (John Calvert, http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/news/editorial/11044336.htm)
Teaching “evolution only” in public schools is indoctrination in “state-sponsored” materialism (hence atheism), and is thus constitutionally problematic.
Further, an indoctrination in the philosophy of Naturalism would seem to offend Constitutional principles. It causes the State of Kansas to take sides in a debate that unavoidably impacts both theistic and non-theistic religious beliefs. The antidote to all of these scientific and Constitutional problems is to present additional relevant scientific information regarding origins, evidence that tends to support and refute the competing claims, so that origins science is presented objectively and without religious or naturalistic bias and assumption. This will reflect the best of science while also putting the State in a position of Constitutional neutrality rather than that of an advocate for Naturalism, a philosophy key to non-theistic belief systems.”(Minority Proposals)
Title of the News Release from John Calvert and the Intelligent Design network in response to the Dover decision:
Dover Court Establishes State Materialism
Students, by being taught evolution, will be lead to the conclusion that there are merely meaningless accidents without purpose.
“It is reasonable to expect that this viewpoint discrimination will necessarily have the effect of causing students to reach an uninformed, but “reasoned”decision that they, and all other human beings, are merely natural occurrences, accidents of nature that lack intrinsic purpose.”(Minority Proposals)
“This can be reasonably expected to lead one to believe in the naturalistic philosophy that life and its diversity is the result of an unguided, purposeless natural process.”(Minority Proposals)
The target of the ID proposals is the philosophy of naturalism (or materialism).
ID advocates incorrectly believe that science in general, and the theory of evolution in particular, is responsible for fostering materialism in our culture.
Thus they are using an attack on science, and on the public education system, as the vehicle to fight their religious and cultural battle.
This is something that all citizens interested in science, religion, and/or education should resist.
This is a critical point
Millions who believe in God (theists) accept that science is limited to seeking natural causes, and accept the theory of evolution.
Such believers (commonly called theistic evolutionists) believe that God acts through natural processes in ways that are beyond our limited understanding.
However, the core argument of the ID Minority (as shown) is that if one accepts the naturalistic foundation of science, one is inherently a materialist and an atheist.
But the existence of the theistic evolutionists shows that this is not true. There are religious perspectives which don’t accept the ID dichotomy.
So how does the ID community respond to the theistic evolutionists?
The ID advocates lumps the theistic evolutionists in with the secular humanist, atheists and agnostics.
Such people cannot be “true Christians.”
John Calvert: “Evolution demolishes any rational basis for theistic belief.”(http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/jan/04/attorneys_Id_case_spread_message/?city_local)
Steve Abrams: “If you compare evolution and the Bible, you have to decide which one you believe. That’s the bottom line.”
ID witness Angus Menuge: “The mere fact that you have somebody who holds two beliefs, A and B, does not show that they are logically consistent, so it might be some of these people [theistic evolutionists] are confused.” (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo8.html#p3780)
Phillip Johnson, founder of the ID movement: “Liberal Christians are worse than atheists because they hide their naturalism behind a veneer of religion.”(Speech at the University of Kansas, April 2000.}
Steve Abrams: They [theistic evolutionists] usually take the tact that God created something and then left it to evolution to work it all out. If these people are talking about the God of the Bible, then they do not understand what is written in the Bible, or they do not understand the philosophy of evolutionary theory. (A Defense of the New Science Standards (2000), Southwestern College Collegian)
“There are many reasons why scientists who are theists do not not publicly deny or take issue with evolution. …
(c) because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory, …
(e)because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their beliefs.
Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin.Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line. (http://www.kansasscience2005.com/Reply%20to%20Response.pdf) Full statement
Note what the Dover decision said about this point:
“Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution …in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.” (Kitzmiller v. Dover)
Common descent, the conclusion that all living things are biologically related by common ancestry back to the beginning of life, is fundamental to evolutionary theory.
The ID advocates deny common descent. They do not believe that species have evolved into other species.
From the Board standards: “The view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendants of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years by….” They continue by listing, again, a number of scientifically discredited creationist arguments. (Board standards, page 75)
Steve Abrams: “We have tried to further define evolution. We want to differentiate between the genetic capacity in each species genome that permits it to change with the environment as being different from changing to some other creature. In our science curriculum standards, we called this microevolution and macroevolution -- changes within kinds and changing from one kind to another.(http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/editorial/13166766.htm)
This is the standard creationist view: “microevolution” can be observed and is true, but “macro-evolution” is not true.
At the May “Science Hearings”, Pedro Irigonegaray asked most of the witnesses whether they accepted common descent, and especially for human beings.
With only two exceptions, those witnesses said they did not accept common descent. When asked how they thought humans came into existence, they said variously some version of “design” or “I don’t know.”
One witness, however, was more candid, I think, and said he believed special creation was the cause.
This is the central issue: those responsible for the changes to the Kansas standards are indeed special creationists, both of the old and young-earth variety.
The believe that God had created life, and especially human beings, through supernatural means.
They reject as theological incorrect the common religious belief that God has created through the process of evolution
They reject all views that accept common descent. They reject the core conclusion of evolutionary theory on religious grounds.
The fact that evolution involves random mutations means that evolution is a metaphysically unguided and purposeless process.
The ID advocates have made false educational claims.
are advancing one religious belief over many other religious beliefs, including mainstream Christianity, without any secular purpose.
Please turn in your question cards for the panel.
Enjoy a break and we’ll see you in 15 minutes.
For more information, see
Kansas Citizens for Science: www.kcfs.org
The National Center for Science Education: www.ncseweb.org
“It is notable that defense experts’ own mission, which mirrors that of the IDM itself, is to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural causation of the natural world, which the Supreme Court in Edwards and the court in McLean correctly recognized as an inherently religious concept.”(Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 67)
“The court concluded that creation science "is simply not science" because it depends upon "supernatural intervention," which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable.”(Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 22)
“ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation.”(Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 64)
“1. An Objective Observer Would Know that ID and Teaching About ‘Gaps’ and ‘Problems’ in Evolutionary Theory are Creationist, Religious Strategies that Evolved from Earlier Forms of Creationism.
The history of the ID movement (hereinafter "IDM") and the development of the strategy to weaken education of evolution by focusing students on alleged gaps in the theory of evolution is the historical and cultural background against which the Dover School Board …”. (Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 18)
This background would be equally applicable to Kansas, if not more so, given the history of the involvement of Steve Abrams, John Calvert and others from the Intelligent Design/creationist movement.
“The two-model approach of creationists is simply a contrived dualism which has no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose. It assumes only two explanations for the origins of life and existence of man, plants and animals: it was either the work of a creator or it was not. Application of these two models, according to creationists, and the defendants, dictates that all scientific evidence which fails to support the theory of evolution is necessarily scientific evidence in support of creationism and is, therefore, creation science ‘evidence.’ (McLean,529 F. Supp. at 1266 (footnote omitted)(emphasis added).” (Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 42)
“Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory. These curriculum standards reflect the Board’s objective of: 1) to help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist on this topic, 2) to enhance critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method by encouraging students to study different and opposing scientific evidence, and 3) to ensure that science education in our state is “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.””
“We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.”
(BOE Standards, page ii)
Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Throughout history people from many cultures have used the methods of science to contribute to scientific knowledge and technological innovations, making science a worldwide enterprise. Scientists test explanations against the natural world, logically integrating observations and tested hypotheses with accepted explanations to gradually build more reliable and accurate understandings of nature. Scientific explanations must be testable and repeatable, and findings must be confirmed through additional observation and experimentation. As it is practiced in the late 20th and early 21st century, science is restricted to explaining only the natural world, using only natural cause. This is because science currently has no tools to test explanations using non-natural (such as supernatural) causes.
Hypothesis, law, and theory are frequently misunderstood terms used in science. A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world that can be used to design experiments and to build more complex inferences and explanations. A law is a descriptive generalization based on repeated observations. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of the natural world that incorporates observations, inferences, laws, well-tested hypotheses and experimental findings to explain a specific aspect of the natural world. Theories drive research because they draw attention to areas where data or understandings are incomplete, suggesting additional directions for research. (Writing committee Draft 2b, page x)
Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena. Science does so while maintaining strict empirical standards and healthy skepticism. Scientific explanations are built on observations, hypotheses, and theories. A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world that can be used to build more complex inferences and explanations. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate observations, inferences, and tested hypotheses(Board standards, page ix)
This two-word change [“informed and’ ]perhaps reflects the core of the controversy between Proponents and Opponents. Opponents seek to significantly limit the amount of scientific information provided to students about the most fundamental question humanity may address –What is the origin of life and its diversity? Where do we come from? They would narrow the scope of information to that which will not contradict the naturalistic claim that life is adequately explained by chance interactions of matter according to the laws of physics and chemistry. This philosophy allows only “natural” or mechanistic material causes for the origin and diversity of life. It requires that evidence and criticisms that challenge Darwinian evolution (the primary theory that supports the philosophy of Naturalism) not be permitted.
It is reasonable to expect that this viewpoint discrimination will necessarily have the effect of causing students to reach an uninformed, but “reasoned” decision that they, and all other human beings, are merely natural occurrences, accidents of nature that lack intrinsic purpose. The proponents do not believe that this is a correct deduction to draw from current science evidence. For reasons explained elsewhere, we believe that limiting the mix of information not only does violence to good science, but it will tend to indoctrinate rather than to inform and educate. Further, an indoctrination in the philosophy of Naturalism would seem to offend Constitutional principles. It causes the State of Kansas to take sides in a debate that unavoidably impacts both theistic and non-theistic religious beliefs. The antidote to all of these scientific and Constitutional problems is to present additional relevant scientific information regarding origins, evidence that tends to support and refute the competing claims, so that origins science is presented objectively and without religious or naturalistic bias and assumption. This will reflect the best of science while also putting the State in a position of Constitutional neutrality rather than that of an advocate for Naturalism, a philosophy key to non-theistic belief systems.(Minority Proposals, page 3) (My emphasis.)
In addition to being scientifically problematic, the use of an irrefutable assumption in origins science may be Constitutionally problematic. During the meeting on October 28, 2004, John Calvert, a lawyer who has studied the constitutional issue for the last five years, explained why the current definition of science (the one proposed by our Opponents) is not consistent with the requirement that educational materials be secular, neutral and non-Ideological. Methodological naturalism effectively converts evolution into an irrefutable Ideology that is not secular or neutral. Naturalism is the fundamental tenet of non-theistic religions and belief systems like Secular Humanism, atheism, agnosticism and scientism.
Proponents believe the most effective way to solve both the scientific and constitutional problem is to use a traditional definition of science that will encourage thinking “outsIde of the box” and open up the discussion to multiple scientific viewpoints. This Idea is reflected in the sentiment of the Congress when it adopted the No-Child Left Behind Act. We believe that perspective should be included in the Introduction so that school districts and teachers will understand that they are empowered to address origins science objectively. (Minority Proposals, portions of page 3-5)
The claim that: Many scientists who are theists believe in evolution, therefore evolution has no conflict with religion, is not logically coherent because there are many reasons why scientists who are theists do publicly deny or take issue with evolution. Based on the testimony at the hearings and numerous conversations I have had with scientists and biology teachers over the past six years I know that many theistic scientists who fall into this category do so:
(a) becausetheir religious beliefs are held for completely unrelated to science;
(b) because they have been misinformed about the adequacy of the evidence that supports evolution,
(c) because their reputation, job performance and job security depends on their allegiance to the theory,
(d) because they work in operational or applied science where evolution is generally irrelevant and there is no reason to question it, and
(e) because they can easily avoid social and political controversy by thinking of evolution as a “tool” used by God to do his work without truly understanding the nature of the evolutionary mechanism and its logical conflicts with their the beliefs.
Of all these reasons, concern about reputation and job security is probably the most significant reason for not voicing any doubts about Darwin. Indeed a theist can actually win friends and influence people in high places by simply toeing the line. Who wants to wind up like Nancy Bryson or Roger Dehart? Who desires the kind of verbal abuse that is levied upon anyone who has the courage to voice sincere and honestly held reservations. (http://www.kansasscience2005.com/Reply%20to%20Response.pdf, page 4)