About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

More on Bush and intelligent design

So, what did Mr. Bush really mean yesterday, when -- referring to teaching intelligent design "theory" in public schools -- he said that "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought; you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes"?

According to his own science advisor, John H. Marburger 3rd, "evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology" and "intelligent design is not a scientific concept." Marburger said people should not over-interpret Bush's statement, since what he meant was that ID should be discussed as part of the social context in science classes.

Hmm, apparently some of Bush's own supporters have a different interpretation in mind. Richard Land, president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that "it's what I've been pushing, it's what a lot of us have been pushing, [evolution] is too often taught as fact; if you're going to teach the Darwinian theory as evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the most support among scientists."

What this "other theory" allegedly supported by "most" scientists might be is hard to guess. Surely Mr. Land could not have been referring to creationism, in any of its various and equally misguided forms.

And please stop this silly stuff about evolution being "just" a theory! Of course it is. Any scientific theory is a theory: gravity, relativity, thermodynamics, atomic, quantum mechanical, etc. But this does not imply that it is on equal footing with such nonsense on stilts as intelligent design or young-earth creationism. A scientific theory isn't a hunch, it is a coherent body of (often mathematical) statements about how the world works, used to intepret a wealth of solid empirical evidence (otherwise known as scientific facts).

Where is the evidence for intelligent design, please?


  1. Since Bush is in favor of students being exposed to different ideas, I assume he will demand the amendment of the abstinence only policy required for programs funded by his administration and insist that birth control be factually talked about in schools. I also assume he will want people to consider that homosexuality just might be normal behavior for some people. Maybe he wants to play with the ideas that going to war in Iraq could possibility have been a mistake, private accounts won’t fix any problem with social security, and universal health coverage might be a good thing for the country. In keeping with this progressive concept, I think he should urge priests and ministers and rabbis to share with their congregations the point of view that god may not exist. After all, it’s a theory with no supporting evidence, on par with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

  2. Massimo:

    In keeping with don k's comments, following is the text of a letter I sent yesterday to the Kansas City Star Letters to the Editor section:
    "John Calvert of the Intelligent Design Network claimed his organization's goal is (quoting the KC Star) "to teach good science by having students examine flaws in evolutionary theory" and (quoting directly) "We have, from inception, sought only a level scientific playing field." It is noteworthy that Calvert does not suggest that ID be exposed to the same level of scrutiny. I wonder if that "level playing field" would remain intact after examination in comparison with the Theory of Evolution through the rigorous standards of the scientific method, a significant number of students rationally conclude that ID is religious myth. If anyone thinks this debate is about truth and objectivity please contact me about a bridge for sale spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn."
    Dennis, NYC Atheists

  3. Examining different schools of thought sounds reasonable, but if one is not intended to actually settle on one, what is the point of examination?

    At what point does indecisiveness become a virtue?

    'But this does not imply that it is on equal footing with such nonsense on stilts as intelligent design or the young-earth creationism.'

  4. Please publish or link some of your previous essays here. Particularly those that were available through the Yahoo group. Having everything in one place would be very useful.


  5. ThomH, I'm working on the format of this blog, but have little time at the moment (ok, as usual!). My other material can easily be reached through my main web page at www.rationallyspeaking.org

  6. It seems apparent that Darwin's theory is flawed with not one but two fallacies. Now this is strange that so-called scientists are still somehow validating a premise they concretely acknowledge as not meeting it's hypothesis, even in Websters College Dictionary states that an hypothesis is to provide a basis for further investigation. It's a dead issue dead dead dead dead.


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