The Instigator
Magicr
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Public Schools in the United States Should not Teach Intelligent Design alongside Evolution

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Magicr
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,790 times Debate No: 30984
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (3)

 

Magicr

Pro



Resolved: Public schools in the United States should not teach intelligent design as an alternative alongside evolution.



Definitions:

Evolution

“Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins. Life on Earth originated and then evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.8 billion years ago. Repeated speciation and the divergence of life can be inferred from shared sets of biochemical and morphological traits, or by shared DNA sequences.These homologous traits and sequences are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct evolutionary histories, using both existing species and the fossil record. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction.”

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


Intelligent Design
“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

http://www.discovery.org......


Rules and Such Things

  1. The burden of proof is shared. It is not enough for one side to merely present rebuttals to the other’s arguments. Both sides must develop a case of their own.
  2. The first round is for acceptance. Clarifications regarding the resolution, definitions, or any other preliminary matters should be brought up in the comments before accepting the debate.
  3. No abusive and/or semantically abusive arguments.
  4. Drops shall count as concessions.
  5. No new arguments in the final round.

Thank you.

FourTrouble

Con

Acceptance.
Debate Round No. 1
Magicr

Pro

Thank you to FourTrouble for participating in this debate. I hope no one minds that my argument for this round is the same argument I used in a previous debate with the same resolution that was unfortunately forfeited on.

A few observations:

    • This is not a debate about the validity of the theory of Evolution. Although components of such a debate may overlap in this debate, that is not the principle subject at hand.
    • The inclusion of the word “alternative” in the resolution is important. This signifies that, for the purposes of this debate, those who accept evolution as a mechanism of a supernatural being fall under the umbrella of those who accept the theory of Evolution over the alternative of Intelligent Design (ID).

This debate discusses what should be done. As such, it is important to understand what is meant by this should. In the case of this resolution, I propose that what should be done is the course of action that better allows a purpose to be fulfilled. Specifically, what should be taught in science classes is what allows the purpose of those science classes to better be fulfilled.

Although one could question whether the purpose of science education is primarily to equip the scientists of the future with the tools the they’ll need to pursue those careers or to provide the groundwork for scientifically conscious citizens across the board, both of these goals share function similarly. Something that both of these purposes have in common is that they function by relaying scientific information to students. Therefore, the information presented should be an accurate representation of scientific conclusions and consensuses. In fact, this standard of informing students as to the conclusions and consensuses of a given filed really applies to just about all subjects of education.

It should be noted that the previous standard applies specifically to public education, as some private school science classes may have other goals, perhaps goals that are more religious in nature.

As it turns out, the scientific consensus on evolution is quite clear, or in the words of the National Academy of Sciences: “The scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming.” [1] Newsweek reported in 1987 on a survey that calculated that only .15% of life and earth scientists supported creation-science. [2] Since 1987, the amount of evidence for evolution has continued to increase. Additionally, a great number of scientific organizations from around the world have signed a statement by the Global Network of Science Academies backing the theory of Evolution and its teaching, [3] not to mention the numerous scientific organizations that explicitly reject ID. [4]

Given that the purpose of science education is to inform students with regards to the scientific consensus and the scientific consensus clearly rejects ID in favor of the theory of Evolution, the theory of Evolution is what should be taught.

Now, ID proponents often argue that schools should teach both “theories” (in quotation marks because I question whether ID is actually a scientific theory, but I digress...), and that doing so would allow students to view both options and choose the option that seems better. “Teach the controversy!” they proclaim. As I have shown, however, there really is no controversy in the world of science.

Thus, teaching both options, with one as the alternative to the other, would be misleading.

Clearly, the resolution is affirmed.

I look forward to my opponent’s response.

Sources:

[1]- http://www.nap.edu......
[2]- http://www.religioustolerance.org......
[3]- http://www.interacademies.net......
[4]- http://en.wikipedia.org......

FourTrouble

Con

Pro's argument boils down to saying that ID is not science. Therefore, to negate the resolution, all I have to do is show that ID is science.

I'll begin by noting that the burden of proof to establish that ID is not science is very high. It is not enough for Pro to show that ID is a minority position among scientists or that many scientists disagree with ID. To wit, Stephen Jay Gould, an evolutionary biologist, wrote:

"The quality of a scientific approach or opinion depends on the strength of its factual premises and on the depth and consistency of its reasoning, not on its appearance in a particular journal or on its popularity among other scientists."

Gould continues:

"Automatically rejecting dissenting views that challenge the conventional wisdom is a dangerous fallacy, for almost every generally accepted view was once deemed eccentric or heretical. Perpetuating the reign of a supposed scientific orthodoxy in this way, whether in a research laboratory or in a courtroom, is profoundly inimical to the search for truth." [1]

The point here is that science is not a popularity contest: scientific disagreement does not equal scientific refutation. Therefore, the degree to which ID is accepted in the scientific community is not an appropriate test of whether ID is science or not. To further emphasize this point, consider the fact that being wrong does not necessarily make an idea unscientific. For example, Newtonian physics has been refuted and superseded by Einstein's theory of relativity. Yet Newton's laws are are not only still considered science, they are still taught alongside Einstein's models in public schools.

I hope that sinks in: for Pro's argument to work, it would require that Newton's not be taught in public schools. Why? Because Newton's laws are wrong. Of course, since this consequence is unacceptable, it exposes the fallacious logic underlying Pro's reasoning. It is thus not enough for Pro to show that ID is wrong, Pro must show that ID is unscientific in nature. As I said before, the burden of proof to establish that ID is not science is very high, and Pro has clearly not met it.

--

Contra Pro's claims, criticisms of evolution are made by many scientists, including scientists who are not proponents of ID. For example, over 1200 scientists signed "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism," including members of the national academies of science in the United States, Russia, Poland, The Czech Republic, and India, as well as professors and researchers at top universities in the study of biology, including MIT, Princeton, Yale, Cambridge, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago. The petition states: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life." [2]

Even Stephen Jay Gould, a well-known proponent of evolution, has voiced concerns regarding neo-Darwininism: "The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change"; and "All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt." [3]

I'd also like to point out, at this juncture, that Pro's sources do not link directly to the evidence he is citing. Without better citations, it is impossible to know whether Pro is making stuff up or not. Regarding Pro's claims themselves, they themselves are problematic. His first source is an appeal to authority which, as I have already demonstrated, is irrelevant to determining whether ID is science or not. Pro's second source is a survey from 1987 in Newsweek and as such is both out-of-date and unscientific. Pro's third source is irrelevant since I agree that the theory of evolution should be taught. Finally, Pro's fourth sourced claim (the link is to Wikipedia's main page so Pro needs to source better) is also irrelevant since science is not a popularity contest.

--

Is ID a scientific theory? Yes. It might be wrong but it is undeniably a scientific theory. To be sure, ID is not Creationism. ID says absolutely nothing about a supernatural creator. It simply states that, according to all available empirical evidence, the mechanisms of evolution do not adequately explain the irreducible complexity of living systems.

ID uses the scientific method. It begins with the observation that intelligent agents (in this case, human beings) produce complex and specified information, what is known as CSI. An example of CSI would be a TV show like Mad Men. ID scientists observe that the only known cause of CSI is intelligence. How could the show Mad Men be produced without intelligence? This question leads ID scientists to then hypothesize that objects with CSI must have been designed by an intelligent agent.

ID scientists then test ID as a scientific theory by checking whether any natural objects have CSI or not. It turns out that ID scientists have identified CSI in various biological structures, including molecules such as DNA and various proteins. [4] ID is thus science because it is uses the empirical evidence and the scientific method to determine that certain kinds of complexity are caused by intelligence. It is possible to disagree with the conclusions of ID but it is not possible to say ID is not science.

--

In conclusion, I'd like to point out that, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the right of teachers to discuss alternative scientific theories of origin in their classrooms. ID and evolution are both scientific theories, and therefore, teachers have every right to teach ID alongside evolution. Finally, I'd like to note that I do believe teachers should be mandated to teach ID alongside evolution. Ultimately, teachers have the academic freedom to determine whether ID should be taught alongside evolution in their particular classroom. With all that said, the resolution is negated.

Sources:

[1] http://www.evolutionnews.org...
[2] http://www.discovery.org...
[3] http://www.stephenjaygould.org...
[4] http://www.ideacenter.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Magicr

Pro

Please see the comments for my source corrections from the previous round as well as my sources for this round which must reside there due to space constraints.


The Importance of Scientific Conclusions and Consensuses

Con’s objection to this part of my argument appears to stem from an out of context and often misrepresented statement signed by Gould and others from the Supreme Court Case Daubert v. Merrell which examined what courts should count as scientific evidence.


The context of the brief from which the statement is taken should be taken into account. The purpose of the brief was to express objection to a lower court’s use of publication in a scientific journal as the sole standard of scientific validity. [1] I am not, however, arguing that publication in scientific journals should be the sole authority on what is scientific valid. To determine what is truly a scientific conclusion, a broader view must be adopted. Thus, this statement does not undermine my claims about the importance of the knowledge of the scientific community, and as I shall momentarily demonstrate, the full statement from the Gould brief and the courts decision itself actually supports this my position.


According to the syllabus in Daubert, “The Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed... the rule that expert opinion based on a scientific technique is inadmissible unless the technique is ‘generally accepted’ as reliable in the relevant scientific community.” [1] This statement endorses the importance of scientific consensus. Additionally, the Court put in place standards for determining what can be used as scientific evidence in future cases. They are as follows:

(1)Whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested;
(2) Whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication;
(3) Its known or potential error rate;
(4) The existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and
(5) Whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community. [2]

As can be seen, these criteria also recognize the importance of scientific consensus.


Additionally, an important part of the statement signed by Gould is missing from Con’s quotation. The following comes right before the second part of the statement quoted by Con: “Science progresses as much or more by the replacement of old views as by the gradual accumulation of incremental knowledge.” This omitted sentence signifies recognition of the importance of the knowledge that is accumulated by the scientific community as a whole, in other words, the scientific consensus. [3]


Pro’s other objection to this premise deals with Newton. He argues that because Newtonian principles have been proven to be wrong in certain conditions, they should not be taught in science classes if the premise is true. This does not refute the premise, however, because although Newton’s laws of motion have been shown not to apply when dealing with the very small and the very fast, they still apply in normal circumstances, [4] which is the circumstance in which they are generally taught. Newtonian principles are not taught as an alternative to quantum mechanics or similar theories, but rather are a stepping stone to get to those higher points.


I’d also like to make an analogy between the teaching of Newton’s laws in science classes and the teaching of certain concepts in math classes. Mathematicians know that concepts like imaginary numbers and infinity don’t actually exist in the world in the same way they do in mathematics, but these concepts are taught anyway. This is because they generally work in the world when they need to as well as provide a way of getting to more advanced concepts, just as the basics of Newtonian physics opens pathways to more advanced physics. ID serves no such purpose.


Not only has Con failed to raise sound objections to this premise, but I have shown how what he used as an important part of his argument here turns to completely supports my premise. Given the bearing Supreme Court standards have on what is legal in the United States, their acknowledgment of the importance of scientific consensus in determining what is science is awfully conclusive.



The Scientific Consensus Strongly Supports Evolution

Con’s case is rather weak when it comes to questioning whether the scientific consensus strongly supports evolution. Con’s biggest attempt at negating this premise was to cite the “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” statement. According to the National Center for Science Education:

“Few [of the signers] were from biological subfields associated with organismic and population-level biology-the divisions of biology most closely associated with the study of evolution... Should one draw the conclusion from the advertisement that there is a growing movement of scientists who doubt evolution? Hardly; many of the names on the list are not new to anti-evolutionary activity. Ironically, if one were to conduct a survey of scientists who accepted evolution, the size of that list would swamp by tens of thousands this list assembled by the Discovery Institute!” [5]


An article in the New York Times headlined also mentions that a great many of the dissenters are not directly involved in evolutionary studies and only a quarter of the signers at the time of the article were biologists according to the Discover Institute itself. [6]

Remember, Daubert specified that consensus should be from the “relevant scientific community.”


Additionally, I fail to see how Con’s second citation of Gould really helps his case. While Gould’s essay explores the possibility of larger, rather than smaller changes, it does not dissent from evolution in any way.

Given that I cited several statements by reputable scientific organizations supporting evolution over ID, not to mention the numerous other statements of this nature beyond my citations, Con’s opposition fails to give this premise a true challenge.


Is ID Science?

Con argues that ID “is undeniably a scientific theory.” I question this claim. According to the NAS, the requirements for something to be a scientific theory the thing is: “A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypothesis.” [7] The only part of this standard that ID seems to fit into is the inferences category. Con’s notion that ID has been tested through CSI seems patently false as it seems to only be based on the assumption that what appears to be complex is designed. This is, of course, not necessarily the case.


Con has also argued that ID does not necessitate a supernatural creator. I beg to differ. If something is intelligently designed, there must be a designer, and since it is proposed that this designer designed the natural world, it would seem that his designer must be of the supernatural sort. It is also on these grounds that I reject ID being classified as science, since an important tenet of science is that it relies on natural explanations. Additionally, a supernatural agent also fails to meet the scientific standard because it is unfalsifiable (failing yet another standard of the Daubert test). [7]


I reject ID being classified as science for the same reasons as Judge John Jones III who said the following of ID in his decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case:

“We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.” [8]

Regardless, whether or not something is science is something that ought to be settled in the scientific community before it can be called science in the classroom.

And I'm out of space.

FourTrouble

Con

FourTrouble forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Magicr

Pro

Extend arguments.

Just so that everyone has clear access to the corrections and sources I posted in the comments, I'll put them here:

Correct Sources for R2

[1]-http://www.nap.edu...
[2]-http://www.religioustolerance.org...
[3]-http://www.interacademies.net...
[4]-http://en.wikipedia.org...

Please note that this source [4] features a long list of scientific organizations that explicitely reject ID.

Sources R3

[1]- http://www.law.cornell.edu...
[2]- http://www.law.cornell.edu...
[3]- http://www.talkorigins.org...
[4]- http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5]- http://ncse.com...
[6]- http://www.nytimes.com...;
[7]- http://undsci.berkeley.edu...
[8]- pg. 64 http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov...

Although, the first time I cite source [7], the link should be this: http://www.nap.edu...


FourTrouble

Con

FourTrouble forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Magicr 3 years ago
Magicr
Another quick correction: The first time I cite source [7], the citation should be as follows: http://www.nap.edu...
The latter citation of this number is accurate.
Posted by Magicr 3 years ago
Magicr
Like I said, I'm really sorry that the sources were messed up in the previous round. I don't think that that mistake merits a loss of source points or conduct, but if a voter decides that it does, then so be it. I do not, however consider sourcing outside of the debate to be unethical unless it was agreed upon otherwise. I would agree with you if I was using the comments section to make my argument, but as I stated, sourcing outside of a debate due to character restrictions is generally accepted practice and not worthy of your charge of "unethical."
Posted by FourTrouble 3 years ago
FourTrouble
The fact your sources were messed up in R2 is already bad enough. This is just unethical.
Posted by FourTrouble 3 years ago
FourTrouble
Um, you're using space OUTSIDE the debate. It is not acceptable unless agreed upon by both debaters.
Posted by Magicr 3 years ago
Magicr
That was never an agreed upon condition for this debate. Unless it is an agreed upon condition, it's common practice to put sources in the comments section or put them in another debate and link to that debate.
Posted by FourTrouble 3 years ago
FourTrouble
Your sources need to be posted in the debate.
Posted by Magicr 3 years ago
Magicr
My source corrections from R2. As I mentioned, I had taken that round from another debate and in the process of this transfer, it appears that the source links were simplified from the specific places in the websites that I found the pertinent information to the home pages of these websites. The correct sourcing for my R2 is as follows:

[1]- http://www.nap.edu...
[2]- http://www.religioustolerance.org...
[3]- http://www.interacademies.net...
[4]- http://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by FourTrouble 3 years ago
FourTrouble
I'd like to take this.
Posted by Paulh 3 years ago
Paulh
I would love to accept this. I will work to the best of my ability to at least make this interesting. as i am defending something based in religion and neither side has been proven to be definitively right or wrong i will be working with theoretical and similar scenarios. I will still use factual when possible but it is impossible for either side to truly win without a fair dip into theoretical statements and simple comparisons with other things. if this is acceptable i would love to at least attempt this.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Lizard 3 years ago
Lizard
MagicrFourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: forfeit
Vote Placed by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
MagicrFourTroubleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for Forfeit, since Con had opening arguments, 6 points is simply too much a penalty, so Ill share my vote with the previous one.
Vote Placed by Subutai 3 years ago
Subutai
MagicrFourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Double FF.