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Monday, February 23, 2009

Iowa Academics Resist Evolution Freedom

By Rick Pearcey • February 23, 2009, 01:06 PM

They believe it, that settles it. Think "peer pressure."

STATEMENT BY IOWA FACULTY ON HF 183:
THE EVOLUTION ACADEMIC FREEDOM ACT

We, the undersigned members of institutions of higher learning in Iowa, urge our legislators to reject passage of "The Evolution Academic Freedom Act" (HF 183) introduced by Rod Roberts (R-Carroll). The language of this bill comes primarily from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which has conducted lobbying efforts and political activism against the teaching of evolution since 1994.

Evolution is as established a scientific theory as any other theory in science.  It is misleading to claim that there is any controversy or dissent within the vast majority of the scientific community regarding the scientific validity of evolutionary theory. Since there is no real dissent within the scientific community, then "academic freedom" for alternative theories is simply a mechanism to introduce religious or non-scientific doctrines into our science curriculum.

Similar efforts to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools repeatedly have been found to be unconstitutional, something witnessed most recently in Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005) in Pennsylvania.

We, therefore, urge our legislators to recognize HF183 as part of a long history of creationist assaults on science education, and reject passage of this bill.

Now if students were able to examine the scientific evidence for themselves, there's no telling where that might lead. Consider the following outrage in HF 183:
It is therefore the intent of the general assembly that this Act be construed to expressly protect the affirmative right and freedom of every instructor at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level to objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution. (italics added)
OK, freedom-lovers. You've got your marching orders!

On the other hand . . . 


Comments

I have nearly finished reading a book titled "In the Beginning was Information..." that puts forth several theroms regarding information as being as fundamental to life as Energy and Matter.

The basic premise is that Information only comes from intelligent minds with volition. Information pre-exists Matter since you need information to create (think blueprint before the building -- or more basic, the idea of the building before the blueprint).

Since Information is fundamental to life, then there must be a volitional intelligence behind it.

That is the gist of it. The book is much more involved.

First, I am for academic freedom within academia, primary grades on up, but am well aware of the various oppositions to it. Understandably, it adds an additional burden to the teachers/proffs in some cases, but so be it. The alternative is indoctrination. Both extremes can be troublesome, and a middle ground is what is called for.

An example: In tenth grade, I failed American History twice, later finishing it with a different teacher. Not due to a cognitive deficiency, but more the result of disagreeing with some of the historical accounts. I found the book to be biased in favor of this country's actions in nearly all instances, especially in warring with nations and ethnicities (native American Indians). But to raise issues of this sort in class was somewhat disruptive, unwelcomed by the teacher, and led ultimately to failing the course twice.

But in the case of alternatives to naturalistic evolution, I feel that the evidence is more supportive of directed causation, than purely naturalistic causation. The arguments against ID's consideration are based both on suppositions, and on narrowly defined science constraints. In the case of suppositions, it is flatly stated by evolutionary supporters that any kind of directed causation invokes the supernatural. I disagree, since the term itself is conjectural, ambiguous, and based largely on religious dogma. ID seeks validation of design, of which there is evidence. The entity(ies) involved are a separate study. Just as the 'Big Bang' can be quantified (somewhat), its causation and its initial method of implementation is still unresolved.

Secondly, the rules of scientific inquiry limit all causes to natural causes, an unreasonable constraint, based on the supposition that biologic life, and some would go even further and say only mankind, are the only cognitive entities that exist. Science even goes so far as to limit cognition to synaptic function, at least by consensus.

We need to step out of the materialist box, although I draw the line at imposing religious thought on students. That would be a personal choice, and one that (I believe) the Creator (or other entity(ies)) intended. So yes, design inferences do exist, and have become so overwhelmingly evident (given our current knowledge) that to summarily exclude them from consideration would be a fascist approach to both education, and to scientific inquiry. Macroevolution, as defined, has not been shown to exist.

I haven't read Nancy Pearcey's book, nor commenter Shawn White's 'Beginning was Information ... ', but did scan the reviews (7 for 'Beginning was Information ... ') and (79 for Nancy's book), and saw some parallels of thought between the two. They both appear to be in harmony with my position.

So in sum, yes, while evolution is in evidence by the progressive phylogenetic record, repetitive homologies, and chromosonal similarities in related species, random natural causation is definitely not. I even go so far as to predict that the 'adaptive' evolutionary mechanism (microevolution) is a 'designed in' process, to aid species survival. It is the mechanism(s) of novel and complex change that needs to be examined, and most likely revised. Shawn said it well, emphasis mine:

" Since Information is fundamental to life, then there must be a volitional intelligence behind it."

Lee Bowman
also pens by Beau Leeman
Biomedical Engineer
Phoenix AZ

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