Dover, PA Administrators Will Read ID Statement
In a compromise aimed at relieving recalcitrant teachers, the Dover, Pennsylvania school board decided that administrators will read a four-paragraph statement about evolution and intelligent design (ID) to high school students for any teachers that want to “opt out” of the new policy (see 11/04/2004 headline). The decision, according to the York Daily Record, was made partly because of a lawsuit entered by 11 teachers that claim that intelligent design is not science. Supporters of the ID policy claim they only want students to hear that there are alternatives to Darwinism. The “one-minute” statement will say,
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.
Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.
With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The newspaper report ends by quoting an open letter from a biologist and a philosopher about why ID is not science but rather “a form of creationism propped up by a biased and selective view of the evidence.” Evolution, by contrast, they claim is “based on and supported by an immense and diverse array of evidence and is continually being tested and reaffirmed by new discoveries from many scientific fields.” They compare the “theory” of evolution to theories of relativity and continental drift, which no one questions. They say that evolution promises great medical discoveries (see 01/13/2003 entry), and that students need “dependable scientific knowledge” to gain admission to colleges and universities and compete for good jobs.
Dr. Sniegowski and Dr. Weisberg (authors of this open letter), your assignment is to write on the blackboard, 500 times, “I will not tell a lie” (see 11/30/2004 entry). Then you must read all four years of back issues of Creation-Evolution Headlines. Anyone who cannot find anything wrong with this letter must also read the back issues before continuing. Selective evidence? Bias? Religious motivation? Such hypocrisy is laughable. How many times do we need to go over this? Go back and read 11/30/2004, 09/29/2004, 08/18/2004, 05/07/2004, 02/27/2004 and the rest of the chain links on Darwinism or Intelligent Design.
As well-meaning as the board’s intentions are, this compromise will not work. Teachers have much more emotional power over the students than administrators. Students view administrators as distant bureaucrats in formidable offices, those mean guys with white shirts and ties that you get sent to when you’re bad. You can just picture a Darwinista teacher smirking as the statement is read over the intercom, whistling a silly tune and rotating his finger around his ear. Students will get the message – ID is crazy, and that it is “cool” to mock it. A few students may glance at the alternate textbook (if they can find one – the Darwinista comrade will conveniently “lose” it), and a small number of students may feel relieved they have official permission to use their brains. But unless there is a charismatic student leader in the classroom willing to stand up to the Darwin-only dogma and attract fellow students to his or her side, most students will just fall in line. The Darwin Party teacher will also have power over grading, and with many and varied subtle techniques, will be able to make any student regret listening to the announcement. Sadly, the policy may backfire, and raise up a class of students even more brainwashed than before. That is why even the pro-ID Discovery Institute considered the policy misguided. Proponents of ID don’t want to mandate their view; they want students to hear both sides and think critically; Darwinists do not. That is the difference: using your brains, or being brainwashed.
The Darwin Party muscles out ID mostly because of bandwagon and bully tactics, not evidence, as we repeatedly demonstrate right here. Unless school boards understand the issues clearly, the Darwinistas will continue to get away with their blustering about science vs. religion, separation of church and state, equating evolution with good science education, threats about jobs and college, and empty promises of medical advances. School boards should first master the baloney detector. Then they must master the history and philosophy of evolutionism. They need to understand clearly the philosophical bases of naturalism, and the fallacies of positivism. They need to expose the religious bias of these philosophies, and be prepared to argue worldviews, not just pieces of evidence. They need to understand the way Darwinists smuggled their philosophy into the definition of science; like physicist Keith Wanser said, “There is not one theory of evolution, but a body of opinions, speculations and methods for interpretation of observational facts so that they fit into the philosophy of naturalism” (see Nov. 2001 quote). After these things, school boards need to devise strategies that empower the students and the teachers to unite against the illegitimate dictatorship of the Darwinista usurpers. It’s as much strategy as knowledge.
The latest Creation Research Society Quarterly has an essay by several authors that provides a primer on the historical and philosophical errors of evolutionism. It points out how philosophical naturalists co-opted Christian assumptions that would otherwise make their own beliefs self-refuting, and how the naturalists pulled a coup over science with misdirection and redefinition of terms. Their claim that science must be naturalistic is refuted by the fact that most of the greatest scientists of history were Christians and creationists (see online book).
These historical and philosophical issues must be understood before writing education policy. The students need to see “teaching the controversy” as a revolution against tyranny, against intolerant dogmatists who brainwash them, who shield from view the ugly problems with their views, as if student psyches are too tender to deal with them. Students, parents and school boards need to be equipped to answer the Darwinist propaganda with facts, logic, and a firm grasp of the issues. They need to be able to parry attempts to misdirect the argument, control definitions of terms or dodge difficulties. They need to defend the right to think and ask questions. They need to stop being intimidated by bluffing, even when signed off by a bandwagon of PhDs. Can the establishment and the “experts” be wrong? Have you ever had a history class?
For every open letter like the one sent to the Dover school board, there need to be a dozen reasoned, informed responses. For every ACLU threat, there needs to be a firm show of resolve by citizens who will not be cowed into silence. The Darwinists should be the ones on the defensive; they are trying to push a myth that the universe came from nothing, that life arose by chance, and that all the complexity and beauty of life “arose” through undirected processes without purpose. This is ridiculous on the face of it. They want to maintain their right to tell these stories to kids, without contradiction. The pompous Emperor Charlie is naked. Don’t be afraid to shout the evidence to a docile crowd, bullied into thinking they cannot trust their eyes.