The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
Therightside
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

Discovery Institute's "Teach the Controversy" Should Not be Implemented into Science Courses.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/25/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 999 times Debate No: 5142
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (5)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

After failing to get Intelligent Design taught in science courses by the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the Discovery Institute has put their main focus on something similar, the Teach the Controversy campaign.

Teach the Controversy Campaign:

"The central claim the Discovery Institute makes with 'Teach the Controversy' is that fairness and equal time requires educating students with a 'critical analysis of evolution'[14] where "the full range of scientific views",[15] evolution's "unresolved issues", and the "scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory"[16] will be presented and evaluated alongside intelligent design concepts like irreducible complexity[17] presented as a scientific argument against evolution through oblique references to books by design proponents listed in the bibliography of the Institute-proposed "Critical Analysis of Evolution" lesson plans."

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Being Pro, I contend that this campaign NOT be implemented in our current science educational system. Reasons are as followed:

(1) Evolution is not a controversy, instead one of the most accepted and supported theories today.

(2) The "unresolved issues" the Teach the Controversy campaign discusses are certainly not unresolved nor scientific weaknesses. They are laden with scientific evidence.

(3) Intelligent Design concepts such as Irreducible complexity have been rejected by the scientific community and refuted in peer-reviewed research papers.
Therightside

Con

Before I launch into the legitimacy of the Discovery Institute's campaign, I would like to address the basis of the debate which essentially is; should we give the government power to decide what is or is not taught in our schools?
I for one believe that we should not, because we as Americans cannot give the government the power, to decide what merits mention in the classroom. Once this power is given, we have given the government the ability to censor us. This of course has many implications: A step towards communism, loss of freedom, and it would take the power of government away from the people; it would take control of the country away from the average American citizen and give it to the elite politician.

You may ask, how is censorship happening towards this issue in the status quo? Well, the ACLU has sued some public school districts that have asked their students to approach the subject with an open mind, for teaching religion and federal judges have begun to side with the ACLU.

Now I will respond to TheSkeptic's reasons to oppose the campaign.

(1) "Evolution is not a controversy"

(A) First of all this blanket statement is completely false. Many Americans believe that evolution is still a theory, not a fact. In fact many completely dismiss it as being false.

On October 23, 2005, a CBS poll states,

"Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved."

So as I'm sure you can see there is still a controversy here. When over half of Americans believe in some form of intelligent design it is evident there is some disagreement on the issue.

(B) The second part of TheSkeptic's statement was "instead one of the most accepted and supported theories today"

Let us look to a National Geographic News article written on August 10, 2006

"In the U.S., only 14 percent of adults thought that evolution was "definitely true," while about a third firmly rejected the idea."
What we can see here is that it is not widely accepted among the American public. Therefore is it an invalid reason to launch a campaign, when an idea that is accepted by half of the American public is forbidden from being taught in schools? No, It is a completely valid reason.

(2) The "unresolved issues" the Teach the Controversy campaign discusses are certainly not unresolved nor scientific weaknesses. They are laden with scientific evidence.

Let's talk about some of the action taken by the Teach the Controversy Campaign: The Kansas Evolution hearings, and the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District.

The Kansas Evolution Hearings:

The Associated Press wrote on May 12, 2005

"A modern-day Monkey Trial in Kansas ended Thursday with a public argument over whether the State Board of Education is damaging science education and whether evolution's defenders have misbehaved.
In advocating evolution-friendly science standards for the state's public schools, Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray spent two hours attacking language proposed by intelligent design advocates, the advocates' motives and the board's conservative majority. The entire board plans to consider changes by August in the standards, which determine how fourth-, seventh- and 10th-graders are tested on science statewide."

- As you can see, the Discovery Institute took action in this instance, when curriculum aimed at favoring evolution, was being advocated.

the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District:

From Pepper Hamilton LLP, Accessed August 25, 2008

Pepper Hamilton LLP served as lead counsel to the plaintiffs in the landmark "intelligent design" case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that was decided in Pennsylvania in December 2005 (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005)). Pepper, along with lawyers from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, successfully represented in federal court eight families who challenged the Dover policy that included intelligent design in the curriculum.

- In this instance, the Discovery Institute came to the defense of the Dover Area School District, when a lawsuit was filed, aimed at outlawing the teaching of intelligent design. Is there anything wrong with fighting to preserve the free exchange of ideas within a school district? No, also I would like to point out the Discovery institute was not fighting to advocate the theory of intelligent design but to stop the outlawing of it.

(3) Intelligent Design concepts such as Irreducible complexity have been rejected by the scientific community and refuted in peer-reviewed research papers.

(A) Where are these research papers to be found?

(B) Craig E. Nelson is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Indiana University in Bloomington, named the Outstanding Research and Doctoral Universities Professor of the Year in 2000, wrote in the Journal Gazette, August 28, 2005

"Michael Behe is the most prominent biologist arguing that some features in cells (cilia, for example) are so complex that they could not have functioned in a less complicated form and, thus, apparently could not have evolved. He terms this "irreducible complexity" and concludes that if it appears that these features could not have evolved, they must have been designed by an intelligence. In a class where ID was being taught, teachers would have to help students examine Behe's claims and purported evidence closely. Indeed, the core process of science is the comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of any unresolved issues that are presented."

The first key problem for teachers and students would be with the nature of any intelligent designer. Behe states, "I strongly emphasize that it (ID) is not an argument for the existence of a benevolent God." He states that "candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel – fallen or not; Plato's demiurge; some mystical New Age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent force." He also notes that the designer may or may not be interested in humans, may or may not be competent and may have designed only some details, leaving others to "the vagaries of nature.'"

Later in the article he states

"What makes ID clearly not science is the conclusion it draws. If a complex feature seems to be inexplicable at the moment, ID claims that it probably will never be explained scientifically and so must be attributed to some kind of a designer. There is no logical justification for such a leap – the correct conclusion would be simply that the feature is currently unexplained."

Now you may ask, why did you read those sections of the article? Well the reason is actually quite simple.

1.Through the first segment, the basis for intelligent design is given.

2.In the second portion of the article you can see how the concept does not specifically point out an actor, but gives a list of actors.

3.Through the third point we can see a very realistic presentation of the idea in the classroom. (after discussing the idea of irreducible complexity) "There are many people who attribute this to some form of intelligent being, while others say that we simply do not have the technology to understand the unexplained portions of evolution."

That is what the discovery institute is launching its campaign, to allow ideas to be presented. They are not fighting to have them advocated. I believe that this is a necessary distinction to make in the objectives of the campaign.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

What should be taught in schools is what is most scientifically backed up.

(1)
"Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved."

A controversy amongst the public? Yes. Amongst the scientific community? No.

(2)
"In this instance, the Discovery Institute came to the defense of the Dover Area School District, when a lawsuit was filed, aimed at outlawing the teaching of intelligent design. Is there anything wrong with fighting to preserve the free exchange of ideas within a school district? No, also I would like to point out the Discovery institute was not fighting to advocate the theory of intelligent design but to stop the outlawing of it."

When deciding what is to be taught in an science class, what is taught is what is agreed upon by the scientific community, not the public. They can exchange their views in other areas, but not have pseudo scientific ideas taught in classes as if it was a legitimate science.

(3)
"Michael Behe is the most prominent biologist arguing that some features in cells (cilia, for example) are so complex that they could not have functioned in a less complicated form and, thus, apparently could not have evolved. He terms this "irreducible complexity" and concludes that if it appears that these features could not have evolved, they must have been designed by an intelligence. In a class where ID was being taught, teachers would have to help students examine Behe's claims and purported evidence closely. Indeed, the core process of science is the comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of any unresolved issues that are presented."

Michael Behe presents his concepts such as irreducible complexity as if they were real detriments to evolution, as if they posed real problems. However, the scientific community has strongly contested against this. His examples of the eye and the bacterium flagella have been refuted.

Ken Miller has refuted Michael Behe's analogy of the mousetrap. While removing one piece does not allow its function to be the same, it's function can change. It is the concept of exaption that Michael Behe has failed to incorporate.

Note that I never contended that I.D. was breaking the separation of church and state, since I can conceive of I.D. proponents using the argument Behe did, and thus avoiding a false dilemma. I am targeting how it I.D. is unscientific, and thus should not be part of school science courses, something I.D. proponents cannot escape.

As in accordance with the Teach the Controversy, since the Discovery Institute has changed their focus from having I.D. taught as a scientific theory, to now poking holes in evolution, it is their scientific arguments that must be examined.
Therightside

Con

(1) "A controversy amongst the public? Yes. Amongst the scientific community? No."

(a)Since, most people in the field of political science and economics, say anarchy is a bad form government should we strike it from our history books?

(b)Your saying, we should let the few decide what everyone is taught. Even if it is against half of the populations beliefs?

(c)Shouldn't the school systems teach fact as fact, not theory as fact? Evolution is a theory it has not been proven. Intelligent design is a theory it has not been proven either. In my opinion the schools should teach fact and present all theories, thereby eliminating the possibility for censorship, while at the same time encouraging academic exploration.

(2)
"When deciding what is to be taught in an science class, what is taught is what is agreed upon by the scientific community, not the public. They can exchange their views in other areas, but not have pseudo scientific ideas taught in classes as if it was a legitimate science."

(A)See above

(B)I fail to see, what is illegitimate about mentioning the possibility of some external, intelligent force being one of many explanations on how particles came into existence. What is so devastating? I fail to see the impact.

(C)Also I believe it fit to point out that evolution discounts the possibility of an intelligent designer on belief it cannot be proven there isn't one and it cant be proven there is one. Those who take the intelligent design argument believe that there is, while those who take the evolutionist point of view believe there is not. In reality it is a matter of belief.

(3)
"Michael Behe presents his concepts such as irreducible complexity as if they were real detriments to evolution, as if they posed real problems. However, the scientific community has strongly contested against this. His examples of the eye and the bacterium flagella have been refuted.

Ken Miller has refuted Michael Behe's analogy of the mousetrap. While removing one piece does not allow its function to be the same, it's function can change. It is the concept of exaption that Michael Behe has failed to incorporate."

You are correct, however if you take evolution down to the base, I believe it shows that ID, at this point in time is a valid theory. We may not understand it yet, but the information we posses currently on the topic I believe points to the possibility of an intelligent designer. The topic I am talking about is energy. Energy cannot be created it can only be shifted from one form to another. This fact points to two possibilities.

1.There is something within energy that could have evolved

2.There was some form of intelligent force that initiated the process.
Just to be clear I am not advocating the sole teaching of ID but I believe it is reasonable to present it as a possible alternative.

(4)
Note that I never contended that I.D. was breaking the separation of church and state, since I can conceive of I.D. proponents using the argument Behe did, and thus avoiding a false dilemma. I am targeting how it I.D. is unscientific, and thus should not be part of school science courses, something I.D. proponents cannot escape.

(a) Well I'm glad we can agree that its not breaking the separation of church and state. However to say it is unscientific is an illogical leap.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

(1)

"Since, most people in the field of political science and economics, say anarchy is a bad form government should we strike it from our history books?"

Of course not, it is part of history. I never said I.D. should be discoursed out of a history/philosophy of science course, but to implement it into a biology course and present it as if it was scientifically valid? Preposterous.

"Your saying, we should let the few decide what everyone is taught. Even if it is against half of the populations beliefs?"

What is taught in science courses is what is determined by the scientific community. To get one's idea through the whole community is like a battlefield, you have to fight through research papers and critiques to have it in the end polished and ready to be taught. 54% of autistic parents believe mercury caused their child to have Autism; the scientific community has shown substantial evidence to the contrary. Yet, do you see psychology courses teaching about how mercury causes autism? Do you see astrology classes? Pseudoscience is moot.

"Shouldn't the school systems teach fact as fact, not theory as fact? Evolution is a theory it has not been proven. Intelligent design is a theory it has not been proven either. In my opinion the schools should teach fact and present all theories, thereby eliminating the possibility for censorship, while at the same time encouraging academic exploration."

You've made several very flawed points here. The first of being which I find so common, and so elementary.

In science, a fact is a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true

http://dictionary.reference.com...

In science, a theory is a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

NOTE that when the word "theory" is used in science, it doesn't mean the more common colloquial definition "a guess". Remember, gravity is a THEORY.

The purpose of a theory is to explain a collection of facts. Facts are simply observations. A theory explains these facts; a theory is a model. A fact of gravity is an apple falling, we observe the motion of an apple falling from a tree. The THEORY of gravity explains why the apple fell. Please do not refute by saying something along the lines of "well why didn't they make evolution a law instead of a theory since it supposedly has so much evidence?" This is because laws are analytic statements, usually with an empirically determined constant. A theory can be composed of laws.

(2)

"See above"
See above as well.

"I fail to see, what is illegitimate about mentioning the possibility of some external, intelligent force being one of many explanations on how particles came into existence. What is so devastating? I fail to see the impact."

Scientists use observable physical evidence of natural phenomena to collect data. If something is unobservable, unfalsifiable, then what is the point of teaching it in science? I'm not saying you should tell everyone that God does not exist, but to teach about supernatural creators gives us nothing, it bears no fruit. It doesn't explain anything, and it won't help us in anyway. Something called naturalism.

"Also I believe it fit to point out that evolution discounts the possibility of an intelligent designer on belief it cannot be proven there isn't one and it cant be proven there is one. Those who take the intelligent design argument believe that there is, while those who take the evolutionist point of view believe there is not. In reality it is a matter of belief."

Totally untrue. You can be a theistic evolutionist.

(3)

Or perhaps energy was always here? And still, methodological naturalism applies here.

(4)

"However to say it is unscientific is an illogical leap."

I have shown why it IS a logical "leap".
Therightside

Con

Therightside forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Rezzealaux 9 years ago
Rezzealaux
"I for one believe that we should not, because we as Americans cannot give the government the power, to decide what merits mention in the classroom."

Well then you're WURRROOOONNNGGGGG.

Coincidentally, my code is "RASH".
Posted by TheSkeptic 9 years ago
TheSkeptic
"Some time to discuss the debate in class is fine, and I encourage it. Maybe one class period, just to keep students current and to encourage independent investigation, if they're interested. But granting I.D. equal (as in literally the same amount of) time as the leading scientific theory would be faulty judgment."

Yes, I agree with what you said. They could probably put I.D. in philosophy of science or history of science classes. However, to grant it as being a serious scientific opponent to evolution would be disastrous.
Posted by PoeJoe 9 years ago
PoeJoe
http://www.debate.org...

Read my comment (first one).
Posted by USAPitBull63 9 years ago
USAPitBull63
Some time to discuss the debate in class is fine, and I encourage it. Maybe one class period, just to keep students current and to encourage independent investigation, if they're interested. But granting I.D. equal (as in literally the same amount of) time as the leading scientific theory would be faulty judgment.
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