The York (PA) Daily Record continues to offer excellent coverage of the Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District trial going on in Harrisburg, PA. To rehash, the Dover Area School District changed the science curriculum back in October 2004 to include the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) and require a disclaimer be given concerning Evolution.
Today, 10/6/05, the Daily Record posted some details about the testimony of Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor, use to connect the intelligent design movement and creationism.
The author of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” Forrest painted a picture of a covert religious movement — one that presented itself as scientific to the media and mainstream public. But under the surface, she said, leaders plotted not only a revolution in science, but also of modern culture.
She spoke about the “wedge strategy” used by ID supporters like the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture and described in a 1999 fundraising document that led off with: “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built.” One of Discovery’s long-range goals to use intelligent design “to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”
They plan to accomplish their goal by first creating a debate about Evolution that doesn’t really exist, publishing “science like” books and articles in non-science media like those self-help gurus do. They also appeal directly to school districts for inclusion in the curriculum. The plan being that if ID is popular than it will become the dominate “science theory” and influence other, non-science, areas.
ID supporters’ fatal flaw is that Evolution is the accepted view on adaptation in biological life because it was found to be true when subject to further scientific testing. It didn’t become a foundational theory because it was popular or that Darwin spent money on a publicist. In fact when he first presented his theory to his science colleagues, many thought he was insane. Back in 1858, the widely accepted science view was that God did create everything and science was meant to get closer to God. Darwin’s theory attacked that belief and didn’t win him many friends.
What changed the scientific consensus was that enough scientists subjected Darwin’s views to further testing and after passing those test, the consensus changed. That is how science works. ID has never been subjected in depth to that kind of testing and the few times scientists have tried, ID has failed the tests.
Compare histories for yourself:
The most interesting bit from Barbara Forrest’s time on the stand was the introduction of an early draft of the text book “Of Pandas and People” that the Dover district included as a reference in their disclaimer about Evolution.
The early drafts show that all the publisher did was replace all instances of the word “creationism” with the phrase “Intelligent Design”. “Of Pandas and People” is really a creationist book disguised as an Intelligent Design textbook to get around a 1987 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the teaching of “creationism”. The first edition of the book “Of Pandas and People” came out in 1989.
On a lighter note, Daily Record columnist Mike Argento, described the day in court during Barbara Forrest’s testimony.
Along about the 658th hour of Dr. Barbara Forrest’s stay on the witness stand, during Day Six of the Dover Panda Trial, I started looking for her horns.
Never did see them.
It was right about the time that defense lawyer Richard Thompson was repeatedly asking about her various memberships in such seditious, treasonous and just plain evil organizations as the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association and the ACLU that it occurred to me to look for her horns.
They weren’t there.
Now, it could be that she was hiding her tail under her trim black pantsuit, but frankly, I didn’t really look.
Argento points out a nasty point about when one challenges a religious conservative viewpoint – the witch hunt. If you are causing problems then you must be a “godless” “communist” trying to corrupt “our children” – as if that argument has anything to do with the case at hand.
He also mentioned that logical fallacies came up in the discussion:
See, while he was accusing of Forrest of employing an ad hominem argument — an argument in which you don’t address the merits of the issue under debate and attack the messenger instead — he was employing an ad hominem argument.
What great fallacy did Forrest commit?
Near as I can tell, she used the words of the people who came up with the idea of intelligent design to show that it’s a religious idea — one based on a narrow view of Christianity — and not a scientific one.
She used their own words against them.
Evil, evil woman.
Using one’s own words against him is not, in and of itself, an ad hominem argument. The words can be used that way, but if they speak for themselves, it’s not ad hominem.
Now, if I were to call Thompson a doody head, that would be an ad hominem argument.
Dover trial, horns (or lack thereof) and all
While I do find the trial serious business, a little humor isn’t that bad. Argento’s column gave me a chuckle while also remaining factual.