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  • Much Ado About Little

       November 10, 2005

    The Kansas Board of Education adopted new science curriculum standards this week, and the new standards have generated a great deal of discussion and / or condemnation both in the MSM and on some of the better blogs such as Althouse. It is usually portrayed as the end of evolutionary teaching in Kansas and the start of a new curriculum comprised of Creationism. Curiously, very little is being said about the standards in Kansas itself. As a Kansan, I feel compelled to at offer an explanation for some of this.

    For the record, the actual written standard contains the following:

    We believe it is in the best interest of educating Kansas students have a good working knowledge of science: particularly what defines good science, how science moves forward, what holds science back, and how to critically analyze the conclusions that scientists make.

    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.”

    From the testimony and submissions we have received, we are aware that the study and discussion of the origin and development of life may raise deep personal and philosophical questions for many people on all sides of the debate. But as interesting as these personal questions may be, the personal questions are not covered by these curriculum standards nor are they the basis for the Board’s actions in this area.

    Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to the science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

    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.

    In addition to the above passage, the standards contain the following additional specific criticisms that I could find:

    “The view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendents of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years by: i. Discrepancies in the molecular evidence (e.g., difference in relatedness inferred from sequence studies of different proteins) previously thought to support that view. ii. A fossil record that shows sudden bursts of increased complexity (the Cambrian explosion), long periods of stasis and the absence of abundant transitional forms rather than steady gradual increases in complexity. iii. Studies show that animals follow different rather than identical embryological development.”

    “Whether microevolution (change within a species) can be extrapolated to explain macroevolutionary changes (such as new complex organs or body plans and new biochemical systems which appear irreducibly complex) is controversial. These kinds of macroevolutionary changes generally are not based on direct observations and often reflect historical narratives based on inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence.”

    “Some of the scientific criticisms include: a. A lack of empirical evidence for a “primordial soup” or a chemically hospitable pre-biotic atmosphere; b. The lack of adequate natural explanations for the genetic code, the sequences of genetic information necessary to specify life, the biochemical machinery needed to translate genetic information into functional biosystems, and the formation of protocells, and c. The sudden rather than gradual emergence of organisms near the time that the earth first became habitable.”

    To be fair, the 100 plus page document contains mostly information on what knowledge students are expected to have, including lots and lots of evolution, but the above passages would appear to be the contentious ones. In addition, note that it is local school districts that determine the textbooks to be used and the specific curriculum to be taught, hence the degree of indifference of many people within the state. In short, nothing much will actually change.

    A great many people believe the aforementioned language is an opening for a future debate on Creationism. They are correct. I have no doubt that we will see someone try to pass off Creationism under the guise of the approved criticisms. So what? As much as I have no doubt that someone will attempt this, I have no doubt that said Creationism would be rejected by the Board and the people that put them there.

    A great many other people believe the aforementioned language is, or is at least a symbol of, an attempt to stop what has been an assault on religion by our public education system. They are also correct. Quite frankly, there is a barely disguised contempt for all things religious being displayed by far too many people in academia. Having said that, modifying the science curriculum really won’t address the issue short of some discussion of religion in schools. A better forum might be a philosophical class devoted to religion and spirituality, but then again any such class in a public school would be quickly condemned, which is part of the problem.

    It appears to me that the criticisms contained in the curriculum consist of two basic types, one type focusing on criticizing current conventions within the greater concept of evolution, while recognizing evolution exists, and another focusing on science as an explanation for life. The first type of criticism is technical in nature, and often put forth by scientists not as a justification for Creationism, but as a means to modifying evolutionary theory based on an ever expanding body of knowledge as to what is going on in the biological world. Such criticisms are not only justified, they are necessary if evolutionary theory is to continue to evolve itself to better explain the world around us. Their inclusion in the curriculum is not an endorsement of creationism. It’s a recognition that scientific theories are rarely chiseled in stone.

    It’s the second type of criticism that is more interesting. Can science explain life? Is the question of the origin of life scientific or philosophical in nature? Darwin’s title, The Origin of Species, was very well chosen. He didn’t entitle his work The Origin of Life, and with good reason. His work, the work of those who followed, and evolution as a theory deal with how species came to be differentiated, not with how life came to exist in the first place. With that in mind, what is the appropriate position for public schools to take on the origin of life itself? The current position is a sort of “we have some theories, none of them can ever be proved, but we’re sure it wasn’t a deity.” This is unsatisfying to say the least. Does ignoring religion, and religious explanations that everyone knows exist, benefit students? Or would students be better served by including a discussion on the origin of life, including religion, that leads to an appreciation of the issue as a philosophical one as opposed to purely a scientific one? I don’t know. I do know that the Board of Education wrestled with these same questions, and the standards adopted represent a compromise. My real hope is that the standards will promote a more open debate, and maybe a discussion as to the limits of what science can and cannot explain.


    Posted by BVBigBro at November 10, 2005 12:48 PM

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    Comments

    #  November 10th, 2005 2:23 PM      Laura
    Good article. Oddly enough, even though I'm a devout evangelical Christian, I just don't care about the evolution/ID debate. Not because my daughter is now homeschooled either - she is only in her second year of homeschooling, and has been exposed to evolution teaching for years. I didn't complain then, because I didn't care then; it's a non-issue to me. However...

    Exposing students to debate would seem to further the cause of science, not hinder it. And frankly, if textbooks have not improved since I was in school, exposure to the debate is a good idea. I was taught that Piltdown man was true - in fact it was exposed as a fraud decades before my textbook was printed. The peppered moths photos were presented as truth, where it is now admitted that they were staged, and are still included for "illustrative" purposes. If it were not for anti-evolution folks complaints, students would STILL be taught that Piltdown man is the missing link. That's not the kind of science our kids should be taught, and if debate tightens up that kind of thing, just like competition benefits consumers, what's the harm?  
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 4:36 PM      james
    assuming, arguendo, that there is any real debate in the field of evolution, do you really expect children to be at the forefront of that debate? if the top researchers in the field, all of whom should have PhD's and access to the latest scholarly journals and dozens of hours with which to read them, cannot come to a consensus, how do you expect schoolchildren to do the same?

    it's comparable to asking schoolkids to debate the latest advances in quantum physics. it's absurd.

    a child's "opinion" on the state of evolution debate is worth about as much as their "opinion" on the proper torsion angles with which to build native proteins.

    again, this is assuming that any real debate even exists.

    there is absolutely nothing scientific about ID. Poking holes in an established scientific theory is not a valid way to approach any topic. I could just as easily sit around and say things like "sure, they say that elephants never lived in south america, but one time, this archeologist found a tusk there! how did it get there? they can't explain it! therefore, the theory that elephants come from africa is open to debate and should be approached with an open mind."

    better yet, perhaps we should teach something like "bush and his regime were really behind sept 11; they used bombs to bring down the WTC. can they prove that they didnt? no! so the theory of 9/11 is open for debate."


    the most frightening passage from the district's standard is this:

    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


    Intelligent Design is not a "scientific disagreement." here you have the kansas school board declaring that this smoke and mirrors trick is "scientific." they might as well start offering astrology classes.
     
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 5:01 PM      Laura
    I suggest exposing students to the fact that a debate exists, not expecting them to engage in it in any meaningful way, and ensuring the textbooks are updated to remove faked evidence.  
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 5:34 PM      KVBigSis
    Bravo, James. You saved me a lot of typing. I'd also like to particularly object to this part of the Board's statement:

    All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

    That seems to imply that Einstein's theories and Darwin's theories are put on the same footing as the theories of the nutty retired science teacher living down the street.

    I can't wait to hear about the history curriculum. Do they pay the same attention to those who insist the Holocaust never happened?  
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 5:48 PM      BVBigBro
    Nice KV, but Darwin says nothing about the origin of life. The curriculum, should you choose to read it, includes only evolution as the explanation for the species on earth, with very few criticisms.

    People are confusing evolution, which is on very solid footing, with discussions about how life itself began. The science behind theories for how life began are speculative; and that's being generous.

    Wht's wrong with all theories being approached with an open mind and being criticised? If no criticism is to be offered, than I propose that all such theories be chiseled in stone today. If they cannot be criticised, than they must be correct and therefore exempt from future change.  
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 5:55 PM      Hrafn
    The obvious question to ask is why single out Evolution for specific criticism? Was Newtonian Mechanics (since superceded by Einsteinian Relativity) or Quantum Mechanics (which is still near the bleeding edge of Physics) similarly targeted? Is there widespread disagreement with the basics of Evolution within the scientific community? No, there is some disagreement on the minutae of it, but only a vanishingly small fringe that wish to throw it out wholesale (of a similar order of magnitude to the number of scientists who believe that Elvis is still alive).

    So why single out Evolution of all the science presented in the curriculum for specific criticism? The answer can only be RELIGION.

    There is no scientific controversy, so "teach the controversy" where it belongs: in a comparative religion or civics class!  
     
    #  November 10th, 2005 8:45 PM      JohnTant
    I think there's a tendency to characterize ID as a scientific theory of its own. It isn't. It's a critique of the theory of evolution, something that points out parts of the theory that aren't explained adequately.

    Plus, it's a little insulting to have one person in this thread equate ID with Holocaust denial and characterize ID as the ramblings of an insane retired professor who time has passed by. For those who understand what ID is (and isn't) all about, this is more ignorant than ID is being accused of being.  
     
    #  November 11th, 2005 8:21 AM      BVBigBro
    I don't think quantum mechanics was in the high school curriculum. The criticisms listed in the curriculum are perfectly valid. That's not an endorsement of ID, but a realization that there are valid scientific criticisms of science that ID has incorporated. If ID does anything good, it will be to have injected more rigor into a field that could use it.  
     
    #  November 11th, 2005 6:44 PM      PhilThePhlosfer
    I found the Life Science standards Grades 8-12, pp 75-79 to be very confusing. What are, for example, the "discrepencies in molecular evidence" that challenge the common descent view(1.f.)? What are the "evidence" and "studies" referred to? We could use some citations.  
     
    #  November 11th, 2005 7:33 PM      PhilThePhlosfer
    More confusion:
    On p 76, 3a. Says speciation may occur.
    3d. implies it may be impossible.
     
     
    #  November 14th, 2005 9:15 PM      Hrafn
    SUPERNATURAL SCIENCE

    It has since been pointed out that by ommitting the word "natural" from their definition of science that the Kansas School Board is implicitly allowing supernaturalism in - obviously to allow in the supernatuturalism inherent in Intelligent Design. Will we therefore also see a demonic posession theory of mental illness being taught?  
     
    #  November 15th, 2005 1:19 AM      Hrafn
    BVBigBro - I would question whether the criticisms are "perfectly valid". As an example, can you find a single paleantologist who would agree that there is an "absence of abundant transitional forms"? This may have been true in Darwin's time, but it is not true now. There will always be gaps as some extinct species failed to be preserved, or have not yet been discovered, but what evidence there is is OVERWHELMING.

    Quantum Mechanics may not be taught at high school, but Newtonian Mechanics certainly is. Where is the explicit criticism of it?

    Why is Evolution ALONE singled out for criticism, if not because it is the religious fundamentalists' bugbear?  
     
    #  November 15th, 2005 8:16 AM      BVBigBro
    Lots of paleontologists would agree there is a lack of transitional forms. That is why people have proposed that sudden transitions are far more common than previously believed.

    Once again, the board doesn't set curricula that are studied. Local school boards do.

    What criticisms of newtonian mechanics would you like taught? The limitations of it were noted when I was taught it, although we didn't study it because it would have been beyond our grasp without some higher math. The reason its' limitations were noted is that physics has standards of rigor that are far in excess of other sciences. Biological science is vulnerable to theses criticisms because of a lack of rigor. Far too much extrapolation, for one, is used.  
     
    #  November 16th, 2005 10:05 AM      Hrafn
    BVBigBro - you're being disingenuous. You still haven't explained the miraculous coincidence that the one theory that the Kansas Board of Education singled out for explicit criticism happens to be the one theory that fundamentalist Christians happen to find particularly threatening to their worldview. The fact that local school boards set curricula is completely irrelevant to this point. For that matter, if the curricula are the responsibility of local boards then why is the Kansas Board of Education micromanaging this ONE issue?

    What criticisms of newtonian mechanics would I point out? I would certainly prefer that science teachers point out that newtonian mechanics falls over for extremely small objects and high speeds in preference to the grab-bag of unsubstantiated 'criticisms' of Evolution that the Kansas Board of Education-nobbling has cooked up!

    If "[l]ots of paleontologists" agree with you, then you should have no problem naming the single example I asked for. Less unsubstantiated assertions, more *facts* please!

    Combine this with the deletion of "natural" from the 'explanations' that science is to encompass in the Kansas Board of Education definition, and it is blatantly obvious that their motive is religious - to allow 'theistic science' (a blatant oxymoron) such as Intelligent Design into the science class.  
     
    #  November 16th, 2005 10:45 AM      BVBigBro
    That would be Gould and Eldredge for two. Evolutionists can be perfectly confortable acknowledging a lack of transitional forms. As for unsubstantiated assertions, name one who would suggest that there isn't a lack of transitional forms. If you can, their response will be as yours above; "extinct species failed to be preserved". This is biological equivalent of ether, and not scientific. It can be neither proven nor disproven. The same is true of all assertions as to how life began. They can be neither disproven nor proven.

    The criticisms of mechanics are pointed out routinely in physics, hence they have no need for additional criticism.

    Evolution now finds itself singled out for criticism because evolution has been extrapolated into areas that cannot currently be justified while maintaining the same scientific standard that would be applied to its' critics.  
     
    #  November 16th, 2005 10:41 PM      Hrafn
    Gould:
    "But paleontologists have discovered several superb examples of intermediary forms and sequences, more than enough to convince any fair-minded skeptic about the reality of life's physical genealogy."
    Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, May 1994

    "Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups."
    Stephen Jay Gould, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, p.261

    I would argue that Gould & Eldredge, with their Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium don't so much argue that transitional forms don't exist, as offer an explanation as to why they may not be as common or as pervasive as once thought. It is entirely consistent with wider Evolutionary Theory if, during long periods of little variation in environmental pressures evolutionary change would eventually slow down to some form of apparent equilibrium. G & E are involved in a debate as to HOW evolution works, not WHETHER it works. Likewise they are debating the frequency of transitional forms, not their existence.

    As to Paleontologists who suggest there isn't a lack of transitional forms: Gould himself obviously, but also Michael Benton and the majority of the authors referenced in http://www.geocities.com/earthhistory/tran.htm, to name but a few.

    "Extinct species failing to be preserved" means that there will always be SOME gaps somewhere - it does not mean that there are sufficient evidence to see the wider picture. As an analogy, the fact that a jigsaw puzzle is missing a couple of pieces does not mean that you cannot discern the over all picture. Creationists on the other hand will bang the "lack of transitional forms" drum as long as a fossil of any single transitional species remains undiscovered.

    So are the criticisms of mechanics included in the Kansas Board of Education curricula, rather than left to the School Boards and/or Science Teachers? If not, then why is Evolution singled out?

    Evolution does NOT involve extrapolation. If it did it would predict what species would look like in 10 million years time. It involves INTERPOLATION, which is far more solid scientific ground.  
     
    #  November 16th, 2005 10:43 PM      Hrafn
    Further, wikipedia furnish a list of transitional fossils at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils  
     
    #  November 16th, 2005 11:31 PM      kris
    It's like Ross Geller is posting here now. I never thought I'd be doing anything to foster a paleontology debate. ;-)  
     
    #  November 18th, 2005 9:07 AM      BVBigBro
    No, no one ever said transitional forms don't exist, only that they don't exist in sufficient quantities to justify a gradual evolution. That is what Gould and the Kansas Board have said.

    Once again, biology is alone in its' inability to acknowledge its' shortcomings, hence it is singled out for criticism.

    Evolution as it is taught certainly does involve extrapolation. The whole "primordial soup" thing is nothing but extrapolation, and is one of the items singled out by the Kansas board. Thanks for pointing out the interpolation. That's another criticism the Board can add next time around.  
     
    #  November 18th, 2005 9:16 PM      Hrafn
    There will never be "sufficient quantities" of transitional forms to satisfy the Creationists, even if the number increases a hundred-fold. There seems to be enough currently to satisfy the paleontologists (give or take arguments on just how even 'gradualism' is) - and that's good enough for me.

    This is particularly true given that the alternative would seem to be an 'Intelligent Designer' who continually exterminated one species in order to design and replace it with another slightly different species, again, and again, and again ... , in order to simulate Evolution. So we are left with either Evolution or a Cosmic Hoaxer. But any Hoaxer sufficiently advanced to pull off this hoax should also be sufficiently advanced to cover their tracks sufficiently well that we may as well proceed on the basis that this speculative 'hoax' is in fact real.

    Biology's 'shortcomings', beyond those currently under explicit discussion and dispute within legitimate scientific circles, seem to be apparent only to the Creationists (who have an obvious axe to grind).

    The 'primordial soup' is not part of any formal definition of the Theory of Evolution. In fact such matters would most probably lie under the separate, acknowledgedly speculative, field of Abiogenesis. Creationists of course lump the whole thing together along with, quite absurdly, the origins of the universe as 'Darwinism' (how they can attribute astrophysics to Darwin & still expect to be taken seriously, I don't know), simply because Creationists explain it all together in Genesis, they expect scientists to lump it all together too.  
     
    #  November 18th, 2005 9:51 PM      Hrafn
    Let us be blunt here. Gould clearly does not believe that his Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium supports a the KBE's position that "[t]he view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendents of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years..."

    He disagree with the current formulation of 'gradualism' in the Theory of Evolution. That is perfectly normal in science - all Theories are subject to further refinement. His statement (above) But paleontologists have discovered several superb examples of intermediary forms and sequences, more than enough to convince any fair-minded skeptic about the reality of life's physical genealogy." clearly shows emphatic support for common ancestory.  
     
    #  November 18th, 2005 9:57 PM      Hrafn
    Further, you have failed to explain the repeated juxtaposition of the following (observed in Kansas, Dover, the Discovery Institute and elsewhere):

    1) Strong religious conservatism.
    2) Skepticism of Evolution that would go well beyond what Gould would consider 'fair-minded'.
    3) A desire to introduce supernaturalism into science.  
     
    #  November 19th, 2005 8:56 PM      BVBigBro
    You're contradicting yourself now. On one hand you want the primordial soup to not be part of evolution, and I agree, but on the other hand you would state that all things are descendents of a common ancestor. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways, and the single common ancestor is extrapolation by definition.

    Once again, Kansas teaches everything that could reasonably be called evolution, and the criticisms, regardless of the motivations behind them, are legitimate. Reread the original post. I said creationists would use this as an opening for a debate on creationism. They will. That's not the fault of the Kansas board. Its the fault of scientists who are unable to meet the standards they would hold creationists to, and who would extend science into materialism.  
     
    #  November 20th, 2005 9:20 AM      Hrafn
    BVBigBro:

    There is no contradiction. Evolutionary Biology only traces life back to the edge of the primordial soup. Before this is the Abiogenesis, which is the necessarily speculative field of how the first self-replicating lifeforms came into existence. There is likely to be a grey area between the two fields (as there is between most related scientific fields), which will to a considerable extent depend on how far back you can go before the evidence peters out (and with it the utility of the evolutionary biologist's toolkit), and thus pure speculation begins.
    I refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution#Origin_and_history_of_life which states: "Not much is known about the earliest development of life. However, all existing organisms share certain traits, including cellular structure, and genetic code. Most scientists interpret this to mean all existing organisms share a common ancestor, which had already developed the most fundamental cellular processes, but there is no scientific consensus on the relationship of the three domains of life (Archea, Bacteria, Eukaryota) or the origin of life. Attempts to shed light on the earliest history of life generally focus on the behavior of macromolecules, particularly RNA, and the behavior of complex systems."

    KBE states: "The view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendents of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years by: ... long periods of stasis and the absence of abundant transitional forms rather than steady gradual increases in complexity." Using the words of your own choice of paleontologist, Gould, I have shown this assertion to be UNREASONABLE.

    I have a suspicion that the other 'challenges' the KBE cites are also unreasonable, but I have insufficient knowledge of the fields to back up any assertion in these areas.

    The two standards that scientists most commonly flunk 'Creation Science' & ID on are methododological naturalism and falsifiability. How does the Theory of Evolution flunk either of these? Gould's Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium is itself an attempt to falsify a piece of the Theory and replace it with an alternative which may prove to have better explanitory power. And Evolution clearly doesn't contain any supernaturalism. So what are these 'standards' that scientists are unable to meet?  
     
    #  November 20th, 2005 9:30 AM      Hrafn
    Your harping on about the fuzziness surrounding the origins of life and the primoridial soup is a bit like claiming that just because we don't know the exact circumstances of some famous historical figure's conception (and often even of their childhood), we cannot claim that the person existed. While the origin and early development of both the famous person and evolution may be clouded due to lack of surviving information, the later career of both have been studied in sufficient detail that their existence is beyond doubt.  
     
    #  November 20th, 2005 7:20 PM      BVBigBro
    Analogies are not science. They do not make unsubstantiated claims more reasonable. Once again, all of the Kansas Boards' criticisms are correct, and you have not refuted any of them. Gould doesn't find that language unreasonable, he finds it supports a different hypothesis. The claim that there will always be missing pieces or unpreserved evidence is precisely a claim that the theory can never be falsified. All of the Abiogenesis theories also fail that test.  
     
    #  November 20th, 2005 8:15 PM      Hrafn
    "Analogies are not science."

    What we are doing is not itself science. It is a philosophic debate. I was merely using the analogy to illuminate the point that the lack of evidence (and thus of certainty) as one approaches the origin of life in no way casts doubt on Evolution's ability to explain the development of life beyond these fuzzy early stages.

    "Gould doesn't find that language unreasonable..."

    I have cited a quote that indicates the opposite. Cite evidence to support your claim!

    "...he finds it supports a different hypothesis."

    Gould supports MODIFICATION of the Theory of Evolution, he does not support its complete dismissal. If you want to claim otherwise then CITE EVIDENCE!

    "The claim that there will always be missing pieces or unpreserved evidence is precisely a claim that the theory can never be falsified."

    RUBBISH! Parts of the Theory of Evolution have been falsified, and the overall Theory modified, since Darwin's time. As I have stated before, Gould's work itself is an attempt to falsify one aspect of it. Lack of evidence, by its very nature, CANNOT falsify any theory -- new evidence (and the fossil record is continually increasing) CAN!

    "All of the Abiogenesis theories also fail that test."

    Whether or not Abiogenesis is, or is not, good science is outside the scope of this debate.

    A LIST OF THINGS YOU HAVE FAILED TO PROVIDE:
    1) Any evidence that Gould, or any other paleontologist, casts doubt on common ancestery.
    2) Any scientific evidence that any of the other 'challenges' in fact cast doubt on common ancestery, as KBE claims.
    3) Any 'standards' that Evolutionary Biologists are unable to meet but that they hold creationists to (beyond falsifiability, which I've debunked).
    4) Justification for allowing supernaturalism into science.  
     
    #  November 21st, 2005 8:27 AM      BVBigBro
    1. Note that the KBE does not support dismissal of evolution, or even its' modification. I suggest you reread the original post and the KBE standards.

    2. Common ancestory is only a small portion of the criticisms, and no proof is required for criticism. The proof is required to make the claim of common ancestry. While the evidence appears to favor a common ancestry, there is no mathematical proof,and I argue that KBE would be wrong to dismiss. Furthermore, common ancestry specifically involves the extrapolation you have claimed is not taking place. Finally, common ancestry cannot ever be proven without extrapolation. I find it very strange that one would argue that common ancestry has been proven.

    Gould's entire theory is based on a refutation of gradual evolution, which is part of the criticism the KBE approved.

    3. The point of the missing pieces etc., is that this is used both as a defense against criticisms and against falsifiability, without providing one shred of evidence, i.e. "the evidence that would refute that criticism was not preserved." Well, maybe. Then again, maybe the evidence never existed.

    4. What's the point of supernaturalism? KBE has not approved any supernatural teachings, and if they did they would not be violating any laws.

    Abiogenesis is not outside the scope of the debate. The criticisms approved by the KBE, and criticised by others, specifically address abiogenesis, and abiogenesis is routinely taught as part of a greater evolutionary course.

    The burden of proof does not fall on those who wish to criticize scientific teachings. It falls on science, and there is science taught in schools that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Creationists will use the criticisms approved to try to get some creationism taught in Kansas schools. So what? They are free to do so. And I don't approve of witholding criticisms because creationists can use them to their benefit.



     
     
    #  November 21st, 2005 11:47 AM      Hrafn
    1) The KBE is definately disparaging of Evolution. The vast majority of scientists would claim unreasonably so.

    2) KBE mention gradualism in two places - (i) as a challenge to common ancestery & (ii) "The sudden rather than gradual emergence of organisms near the time that the earth first became habitable." Neither of these contentions is supported by Gould.

    3) RUBBISH! What you are claiming goes against both logic and the scientific method. Cite evidence if you want to make such outlandish claims.

    4) By leaving the "natural" out of "natural explanations" in their definition of science, KBE implicitly allowed in supernatural explanations (God, fairies, demonic posession) into science.

    Abiogenesis is a separate field from Evolutionary Biology. So whatever criticism their may be of Abiogenesis, it is NOT a legitimate criticism of Evolution.

    Creationists will use the KBE's standards to introduce religion (in the form of Intelligent Design or similar Creationism) into the science classroom - where it has no more place than Shakespeare, Karl Marx or Thomas Aquinas.  
     
    #  November 21st, 2005 1:01 PM      BVBigBro
    There is no outlandish claim regarding the missing pieces. If someone makes a claim that insufficient transitions exist, the claim is always "the missing pieces failed to be preserved". This by definition says no falsifiability is possible.

    As to a common ancestor, I could simply say "show me the common ancestor of all living things". No reply would be forthcoming, or could be forthcoming, or ever will be. It is neither proveable nor disproveable.

    Kansas has not approved ANY supernatural explanations regarding anything reasonably defined as evolution. Abiogenesis and the common ancestor theory are not part of evolution and are not necessary for evolutionary theory to be accepted as fact. Kansas has not approved any supernatural explanations for anything for that matter.

    The criticisms remain directed not at evolution, which will still be taught unblemished, but at the attempt to use speculative science, for lack of a better term, to answer questions that are in part philosphical, and to then treat the speculative science as fact.  
     
    #  November 21st, 2005 10:02 PM      Hrafn
    BVBigBro:

    Your assertions are wild and at best only semi-coherent. I am getting tired of trying to tease out what little logic there is in them.

    Despite repeated requests to back them up with EVIDENCE (quotes, facts, etc), you have failed to do so.

    I conclude that you have prejudged the matter and will not be swayed by either facts or logic. It is therefore not worth my time to argue with you further.

    Go read a book on the Philosophy of Science. Go travel outside Kansas (or better yet outside the US).

    Goodbye.  
     
    #  November 22nd, 2005 8:11 AM      BVBigBro
    I have yet to see any facts sufficient to sway me to the viewpoint that no criticism is possible.

    Nice rip at the end. Tells me all I need to know about you.

    For the record, I don't support ID, and I believe some of the criticisms are likely to be disproven. I do not, however, treat science as dogma, and can at least recognize that many criticisms of science are perfectly valid.  
     

     

     


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