It Turns Out that Intelligent Design is Kinda Dumb (at least in Dover)

The Dover, PA “Intelligent Design” case was decided today. In the nutshell, the school district’s use of language in science classes of how evolution was “just another theory” and that Intelligent Design was a competing theory was a violation of the separation of Church and State since Intelligent Design is really creationism in a fancy coat.

Good for the judge, who, according to this New York Times article, is a Repubilican and Bush administration nominee. Here’s a good quote from this piece:

Judge Jones also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of “breathtaking inanity” and “dragged” their community into “this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

Another good piece on this was this commentary piece by Lawrence Krauss on All Things Considered. I don’t know if Krauss is right, but he claims in this commentary that about half of Americans believe that the Earth is actually the center of the universe, the sun revolves around it, and it is about 10,000 years old, as suggested by the Bible. (BTW, just in case you’ve wandered into this blog for some strange reason, none of these things are true.)

In any event, it’s nice to hear that at least something smart came of this.

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4 Responses to It Turns Out that Intelligent Design is Kinda Dumb (at least in Dover)

  1. John says:

    As an undergraduate, I took a 400-level class titled “Evolution, Creation, and the Origins of Life,” which was offered by the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. In that class, which was, as you might imagine, unapologetically pro-evolution, one of the texts we read was a sociological study of Creationists and the Creationist movement (this was in the early 90s and the book dated from the late 80s, I think). One of the facts that really surprised me was that at the time the research was done (mid 1980s), over 40% of all American college graduates believed in the Biblical story of creation. So Krauss’ statement seams more or less reasonable to me.

    Did he really say that they believe that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun revolves around the earth though? I don’t remember hearing that yesterday, though I do remember him saying about half of Americans believed in the Biblical account of creation (could be I just blocked the whole earth as center of the universe part). I’m not sure that the Book of Genesis actually states that the earth is the center of the universe or that the sun revolves around the earth. I think, though I could be wrong, that the idea was assumed or inferred. (And I can tell you that there’s a long history of Church fathers stating that the world was round long before Columbus, but unlike the issue of the earth revolving around the sun, we don’t have any accounts of people being threatened by the Church for claiming the earth was round — the whole story of how the legend of how Columbus disproved the flat earth theory is itself a fascinating story in which Washington Irving — yes, Rip Van Winkle Washington Irving — plays a major role).

    What I do know is that Creationists generally date the earth, and the universe, to about 6,000 or 7,500 years old. The thing is, the Bible does not explicitly state this, but rather people have worked it out based on dates and timelines in the Old Testament. But Creationists don’t all agree on this and there are a number of competing Creationist theories on the age of the earth (interesting reading, actually). I believe it was James Ussher, a 16th century Irish archbishop, who first claimed the earth is 6,000 years old.

  2. Steven D. Krause says:

    Well, the NPR piece is interesting listening because what Krauss says is that x% of people (I can’t remember what that number is right now) really believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old despite the overwhelming evidence that suggests its billions of years old.

    A more difficult statistic is one I heard on Dianne Rhemn (sp???) this morning, a different and still (apparently) often quoted survey that claims that something like 40-45% of Americans “believe in creationism.” Okay, but what does that mean? Does it mean that 40% of Americans believe the whole Adam and Eve thing, or that 40% of Americans believe in something kind of like “the big bang” theory? I’m with you that it seems odd to me that 40% of people would accept the creation story in the Bible as literally true. I had an Old Testament class in college– taught out of the religion department by a rabbi– who claimed that Jews read the creation stories as metaphors, that no Jew, orthodox or otherwise, literally believes the whole Adam and Eve thing.

    In any event, the class that you’re talking about John sounds pretty cool. Of course, that’s not what was being attempted in Dover.

  3. kent johnson says:

    Can’t we just all deal with the fact that creationism and evolution should both be classified as history? we use science to try and figure out what happened in human history but we don’t call history science. Bioligists use science to try and figure out where things came from and likewise shouldnt call the history they study science.
    Both scientists and creationists start with all kinds of presuppositions. Those are not science.
    why does this have to be some kind of hateful fight. why can’t we just study both ideas in the classroom in life and make our own decisions about what we are going to believe.
    There are completely ‘sane and rational’ people that have chosen to believe all kinds of things that generally are not believed to be true by experts in the field. sometimes those people end up to be ‘right’

    i hate to say it.. but can’t we all just get along?

    god.

  4. Sheepherder says:

    The scientists will never admit they are wrong or that there is a chance they are wrong about carbon dating. But it is known if you take freshly developed carbon and compress it into a diamond. Now carbon date the diamond, it shows itself to be millions of years old. Also fossils have been found to straddle several different layers of strata. And the fact we are here in the known universe is almost mathamaticaly impossible.

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