Intelligent Design in the Schools Apr 28, 2005 23:43:25 GMT -5
Post by Nemo on Apr 28, 2005 23:43:25 GMT -5
In McLean v. Arkansas, Judge Overton ruled that not only was the teaching of “creation science” a violation of the establishment clause but it was not to be thought of by the court as science at all. Michael Ruse and other expert witnesses argued that any theory that does not assume methodological naturalism is not science by offering a five point definition of science: the process had to be 1) guided by natural law 2) explanatory by natural law 3) testable against the empirical world 4) tentative in conclusions, and 5) falsifiable.
However, this criteria fails to exclude Intelligent Design on a number of accounts. First, it should be noted that the demarcation theory fails to pass it’s own test and cannot be considered science and the denial of rational agency existing in nature (i.e. ourselves) undermines the foundation of scientific inquiry. Second, the real issue at hand is whether a theory is true, not whether it passes another demarcation theory.
Moreover, if something must be tentative to be called science then methodological naturalism must also be held tentative to be called scientific. Therefore, it should not be presupposed but tentative. But if it is tentative, then other theories must be permitted to be introduced. In short, methodological naturalism (MN) succumbs to problems of self –reference.
Agency is assumed in many fields and endeavors traditionally held to be scientific such as forensic science, the SETI program, etc. Importantly, MN cannot account for moral claims or any sort of oughtness as well. It cannot tell us why science should take place ethically and honestly. MN must be completely denied of the use of the word "Should" or "Ought". Oughtness does not have any physical qualities and cannot be measured. Yet, for example, science holds that results should be reported accurately.
In contrast, ID is much richer in explanatory power. In short, it holds that: 1) intelligent causes exist in nature 2) they are detectable. ID does not point the finger of agency at every point in a causal nexus. Rather, it offers a rational justification for invoking agency via use of what William Dembski terms the “explanatory filter” which can detect such things as irreducible complexity and specified complexity. Thus we are left with a system that can account for both types of causation- agency and material. Moreover, ID fits Ruse’s criteria better than many theories traditionally held to be scientific.
While, admittedly, ID does have theistic implications, MN and Darwinism have atheistic implications. In Torcasso v Watkins, the US Supreme court recognized secular humanism, which is founded on MN, as a religion and in The School District of Abington Township, Pa., v Schempp, the court ruled that the state may not establish secular humanism. Therefore, it is in the state’s interest to not promote MN over ID. Further, Malnick (which ruled that Transcendental Meditation violates the establishment clause) employed the use of the parallel position test which the ID position surely passes when compared to MN. ID seeks to find answers to the same questions as Darwinism. Again, there are religious implications but not all religious views imply a belief in a God that is to be worshipped (i.e. Buddhism). Thus, the ID position does not violate the establishment clause due to it’s parallel position status. Moreover, the motives behind a given argument are immaterial to the verity of the argument. To suggest otherwise commits the genetic fallacy. Laudin, a critic of creationism, does view the creation position as falling within the realm of science and is quite falsifiable. He poignantly asks why, if creation is not falsifiable, are scientists claiming that it is not true. Both positions in some regards fail the demarcation test and pass the demarcation test, but they do so for the same general reasons. Ruse himself has backpedaled on his earlier criterion to acknowledge that creationism and Darwinism both depend on unprovable metaphysical assumptions. While ID is not equivalent to creationism the analogy still applies.
Since the position of ID is a legitimate parallel position held by first class scholars with impeccable credentials ( including those holding Ivy League doctorates, multiple doctorates from respected institutions, having published articles in peer reviewed journals, etc.), it should be presented as an alternative to Darwinism in a fair and balanced way. There should be sufficient time to present the key features of ID. This would include a criticism of the mechanism of Darwinism (microevolution plus deep time), a critical analysis of the fossil record and icons of evolution which are commonly found in textbooks, a basic understanding of information theory and specified complexity, and the concept of irreducible complexity. Favoritism of one theory over another for reasons other than the weight of the arguments is not to be demonstrated.
Though creation science may not be taught in the schools as defined by the Supreme Court in Edwards v Aguillard, ID is not the legal equivalent to creation science for the following reason. Prior to Edwards, the court ruled in Peloza v Capistrano that anything ‘arguably nonreligious’ should not be considered religious in applying the establishment clause and in Alvarado v City of San Jose the court ruled that the installation of a statue of an Aztec god does not violate the establishment clause. The court used a three part test in Alvarado to determine whether something is to be considered religious: 1) it had to address fundamental and ultimate questions of life 2) a religion is comprehensive in nature consisting of a belief system as opposed to an isolated teaching and 3) a religion may be recognized as having ‘formal and external’ signs (i.e. holidays, services, clergy, etc.) The teaching of ID in the schools is consistent with these case laws. ID is arguably nonreligious in that it satisfies the above criteria as it does not necessarily address the ultimate issues, it’s proponents come from diverse and conflicting religious backgrounds. As Justice Powell noted regarding Edwards , the mere fact that something is consistent with or harmonizes with the tenets of a religion does not mean it violates the establishment clause. Moreover, ID does not champion any particular theory of morality, ethics, metaphysics, or view on an afterlife. It is an isolated teaching on the nature of causality. ID has no clergy, no services, no holidays, etc. It is characterized more by incidental membership in professional organizations that are analogous to such things as the American Chemical Society. Parenthetically, if it is insisted that implications to ultimate issues should be used as a criteria then Darwinism would fail the test as well. Many leaders in the Darwinist camp have attested that naturalistic evolution clearly implies there is no ultimate puropse our lives.
Other challenges that creation science violates the Establishment clause came in rulings holding that creationism fails to meet the Lemon Test criteria which holds that 1) the government must have a secular purpose 2) the government must neither advance not inhibit a religion 3) the government must not be excessively entangled in religious matters. This criteria has been employed in Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education by the Fifth Circuit. While the Lemon Test may succeed for the teaching of creationism, it does not hold for the teaching of ID. The government has a secular purpose in teaching ID by reason of academic freedom, not promoting one view over another, encouraging critical thinking in students, etc. Secondly, the government is not promoting a particular religion because no references to the book of Genesis or other book of origins held to be sacred are considered. The issues found in the Scopes trial are irrelevant to matters considered here. ID draws it’s conclusions from physical and biological data without consulting any religious text. It is an information science rather than a religion and will not entangle the government in religious matters. Thus in Edwards, the court ruled that creation science did not pass the Lemon Test, but it can be demonstrated that the ID position may pass this test. ID also fulfills the purpose of protecting the academic freedom of those faculty members and students who part from the conclusions of Darwinism. In Epperson v Arkansas, the court struck down an Arkansas statute that prohibited the teaching of evolution because it violated and restricted the academic freedom of teachers protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The same freedom that protects the teaching of naturalistic evolution should also protect the critics of the same. To do otherwise would be to favor an orthodoxy. Hence, it is in the states interest to teach ID in the schools in the name of academic freedom. News areas of research are made possible by dismissing present boundaries of investigation. ID would provide scientists an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’.
Further, the Establishment Clause criteria is also met by ID as it neither endorses nor favors a particular religion. If anything, the current state of affairs endorses materialism and the state has an interest in preventing such. Ronald Numbers has, for example, documented many cases whereby those critical to Darwinism have fell under persecution by Darwinian orthodoxy. State mandated MN would violate the court’s intent in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, which held that it is unconstitutional to allow viewpoint discrimination. The institutionalized naturalism held by Darwinism violates also the neutrality clause; it would be unfair and unjust to institutionalize MN as the state’s epistemic base especially when it cannot support itself.