PZ Myers is finds it alarming that "Donna Callaway, a member of the Florida Board of Education" whose recent editorial he thinks delusional is alarmed at one of the recently passed Florida eucational standards: "Diversity and Evolution of Living Organisms. A. Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.".
If he thinks she's trying to win Ben Stein's koolaid harder than her neighbors, then PZ needs to spend more quality time wresting alligators - here is what her brethren, who have strong opinions about Expelled, have to say in The American Spectator :
Re: Ben Stein's Florida's Darwinian Interlude and letters in Reader Mail's Why Not Goldwater?:
Regarding his Feb. 20 column, "Florida's Darwinian Interlude" unfortunately, his conclusion is incorrect. He writes: "By an incredible miracle of good sense, at the last minute, the state of Florida changed the proposed regulations. They backed off powerfully saying that only Darwinism could possibly make sense and said they would allow discussion of differing theories about the origins of life. That's the current proposal as I write this on the afternoon of the 19th of February."
In fact, a "compromise" was approved by the Florida Board of Education on Feb. 19 inserting "scientific theory of" before each reference to "evolution" in new science standards for K-12 public schools in Florida. The Board, however, rejected an amendment offered by parents, teachers and others concerned about the standards' dogmatic approach to evolution that would have permitted teachers "to engage students in a critical analysis" of Darwinian evolution.
My newspaper has covered this matter for several months now. Our articles, editorials and other commentaries on the matter can be view on our Web site.
I appreciate Mr. Stein's exposure of "Big Science's" opposition to views contrary to Darwinian evolution in the forthcoming movie "Expelled," which I will be viewing at a screening in Tampa tonight.
-- James A. Smith Sr.
Florida Baptist Witness
If you were to take the argument from arrogance away from the Darwinists who deride heretics such as Tom Bethell and Ben Stein, much of the vapor would be blown away and you'd see more clearly that what ID argues against is not science, but a set of presumptions.
Scientists who favor Intelligent Design are not arguing that evolution did not happen; they are only arguing that evolution did not happen without a guiding intelligence. Darwinists cannot prove that there must be a naturalistic explanation for life's origins and diversity; they simply take that as a given. And since it is taken for granted, every observed fact must be seen as "evidence" of evolution's creativity -- even though you could easily turn it around and frame each fact as evidence of God's grand design.
ID folks have the effrontery to question these presumptions. If we cannot directly observe a Designer, then why cannot we infer one, based on our knowledge of statistical odds and complex systems? Rather than presumptively rule out the involvement of a Designer, they try to calculate the odds against complex systems coming about in a random manner, and then ask us to decide whether the Darwinists' set of presumptions is, well, presumptuous?
To me, this controversy seems like a fantastic arena for debating important questions, from biology to biochemistry to astronomy to epistemology. To others, however, it speaks only of a solemn duty to burn all heretics at the figurative stake of scientific orthodoxy.
One ought to bring arguments to a debate, not just attitude. In Professor Sepkoski's letter, Bethell -- clearly not an ignorant man -- is attacked as "profoundly ignorant" and ID's proponents are mislabeled as "creationist propagandists." Contradicting Bethell's statement that "fossils can't reveal ancestry", Sepkosky claims that there is an "abundance of evidence" to the contrary. But this begs the question. If the truth of Darwinism is presumed, taxonomical similarities do indeed appear to offer an explanatory narrative. But why presume at all? Structural similarities cannot not prove that creature A begat creature B any more than, if an evolution did in fact occur, that it had to have happened in the absence of a pro-active Designer, nudging it along. Evolution, after all, can occur inside the minds of designers, too. You can see such an evolution from a Model T Ford to a Toyota Prius and acknowledge the structural similarities, without requiring cars to have sex with each other. The evolution happened, alright, but it happened on the drawing boards before it happened in the factories and showrooms -- all within the minds of the automobile designers. Who's to say that an analogous Designer didn't similarly guide the journey, say, from fish to amphibian?
As for Mr. Dawson's letter, it sees Professor Sepkoski's attitude and raises it. I don't know where his evidence came from that "all doctors are Darwinists," as I happen to know at least one who is not. But I can't imagine why someone would even think that the only way to become a doctor is to believe all life came from a single cell. It's like saying someone can't be a good car mechanic unless he believes all vehicles descended from a single wheel. If a doctor knows how to repair a heart valve and prescribe appropriate medication, what difference does it make what he believes about the origins of species? Evolution may be what the doctor was taught in school, but does everyone always believe all the things he is taught?
At least Messrs. Bethell and Stein are willing to debate these issues. They try to answer criticisms instead of ridiculing them, or their proponents. I thank them for their willingness to engage and take the heat, and I look forward to seeing the movie.
-- Lee Dise