Design network, inc.
P.O. Box 14702, Shawnee Mission, Kansas
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Remarks of John Calvert to the Kansas State Board of Education
_ July 13, 1999
I am John Calvert, a resident of Lake Quivira, Kansas. I am here today
to speak with regard to the Proposed Kansas Science Standards - Fifth Working
Draft, June, 1999. I am speaking on my own behalf and on behalf of my two
grandchildren, J.D. and Katie Robb, who attend public schools in Iola,
Kansas. JD is a sixth grader and Katie is in the third grade.
Although I am an attorney, I represent no other group or organization at
this hearing and I am not here on behalf of my law firm.
Although I earn my living practicing law, I am also a geologist and have
pursued that discipline for many years as an avocation.
As an attorney I specialize in corporate finance and corporate governance
- a branch of the law that particularly concerns itself with the full and
fair disclosure of the benefits and risks associated with investments in
Being a geologist, I find no fault with most geologic estimates concerning
the age of the earth and the times at which various stages of life appear
to have come into being.
I am not a creationist as that term is frequently used in the press and
by the scientific community to describe one who believes in a literal and
narrow interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. However, I do believe that life
has resulted from design rather than by chance.
Having given you my background, let me get to my remarks.
I believe that the proposed Fifth Draft is an excellent document in many
respects. However, I also believe that the Standards improperly mandate
teachings that prohibit inquiry about and legitimate explanations of important
data that occurs in nature concerning the origin and diversity of life.
The standards also improperly mandate extremely misleading teachings concerning
the state of scientific knowledge about the origins and diversity of life.
The Standards should be revised to eliminate these defects.
The job of science.
The job of science is to analyze data that we observe in nature. Next we
form logical conclusions that may be reasonably inferred from the data.
Finally we attempt to explain those conclusions. Those conclusions and
explanations can then be used for further inquiry. Through this process
we build a body of knowledge that can be used for a variety of useful purposes.
Suppose we get a 911 call. At the scene we observe the body of a dead house
painter in the front yard next to a ladder. The body is lying in a pool
of white paint. From our observations of this data, we might first conclude
that the painter died of a broken neck after falling from the ladder by
accident. However, when we roll the body over and observe new data - a
ten inch knife imbedded to the hilt in the small of the dead person’s
back we immediately form a different conclusion. Based on the observed
evidence, the death may not be an accident, but rather may be one that
has resulted from the act of an intelligent agent other than the dead person.
This would make the death a possible homicide rather than an accident.
This conclusion leads us to conduct further inquiry - further conclusion
of homicide becomes stronger. It leads us to follow a pair of bloody foot
prints into the house where we find the painter’s ex husband with
blood on his hands and on the bottom of his feet. After reading him his
rights he confesses to the murder. We then explain our conclusion of murder
to the insurance company. The insurance company then declines payment of
the policy proceeds to the husband-beneficiary who has been taken to jail.
Science generally is no different. We look at data, form conclusions and
then explain the conclusions.
The Standards mandate a different approach when the data suggests an inference
A curious thing happens when we observe living systems. When we observe
data in nature indicating that it is possibly the result of design many
scientists and the Standards tell us to ignore any teleological conclusion
- any conclusion that would lead us to believe that the data is caused
by design. If we were to apply this approach to the case of the dead painter,
the perpetrator of the crime would be rewarded. When we roll the dead painter
over and see the knife in the painters back we are told to immediately
suppress any conclusion that the death was designed rather than accidental.
This is because we are not permitted to consider any inference that would
lead us to that conclusion. We are instructed to only follow leads and
develop conclusions that will explain data existing in nature as data that
is not designed. Hence, we would ignore the bloody foot prints and not
conduct any interrogation of the husband that might lead to a cause other
than accidental. To explain the death we would be forced to construct an
explanation that would allow us to conclude that the death was not the
result of design. Under this constraint we might be tempted to erroneously
conclude that the painter "somehow" fell on the knife. Of course,
this conclusion would allow us to close the case and stop any further inquiry.
Instead of going to jail, the husband would depart for Hawaii to start
spending the $1.0 million collected from the insurance company.
Although this may seem somewhat farcical, this is precisely what the proposed
Science Standards urge our science teachers to tell our children. When
we begin to observe data relative to the origins and diversity of life
we are told only to look for explanations that are accidental in nature
or that result only from natural processes. We are told to not form conclusions
that the data has resulted from design. In fact, even if the information
processors in our head generate output that the data has been designed,
we are told to override and to ignore that output.
This derives from page 5 of the fifth draft of the Standards and the definition
of science where it is stated:
" Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what
we observe in the world around us."
The word "natural" limits the kind of conclusions or explanations
that we may develop. A conclusion of design is deemed by many scientists "unnatural." To
this group design implies the intervention of an entity that is not in
nature and that is therefore supernatural. The word "natural" is
the code word for the non consideration of any teleological or purposeful
explanation of the universe.
This notion of exclusion of teleological data from consideration has become
an unwritten law within the scientific community. It has become the major
tenet of a faith that everything, including our lives, can be explained
only by material things without resort to an intelligent agent. We see
the symbols of this faith on bumper stickers and we can’t escape
it when we turn on the TV and watch Carl Sagan holding a watch and telling
us that we are just fooled when we think such an intricate mechanisms as
life had a designer. I am attaching excerpts from the writings of a number
of scientists that explain this unscientific approach to science.
The reasons for excluding logical design inferences have no scientific
or societal merit.
Scientists that promote the prohibition of design inferences claim to do
so for two reasons. They claim that design implies a designer that is outside
of nature or that is "supernatural." Since we cannot observe
that which is outside of nature, the argument is made that we should not
be concerned with it. The second reason is that the inference of design
introduces religion into science. Since science should not be concerned
with religion, science should not be concerned with design.
The primary fallacy of the argument that design implies an agent that is
outside of nature or one that is "supernatural" or beyond consideration
is that the data that shows the design is itself in nature. When we observe
the back of the painter we see data that consists of a knife that appears
in the small of his back in a way that is highly improbable to have occurred
by any circumstance other than by the arm of another human. That data is "in
nature." It is before our eyes. We see it. We must deal with it. By
same token, when we observe the simplest cell we observe data that is in
nature and that is pregnant with design. When we look into a cell in nature
we observe:C a housing much like the case around the computer in my office,
C an application program containing 6 billion bits of information written
in a "code" much like a Morse code using a 20 letter alphabet,
C input devices that sense and receive information within its environment,
C storage devices which store the information in "memory"
C processors which process the received and stored information and then
output it to build proteins and enzymes and to cause the cell to perform
functions necessary to maintain its life and the life of other cells within
What we observe is an information processor that produces processed order
as opposed to order that merely results from the application of the four
forces. Processed order is order that is produced by an information processor.
Non processed order, such as the order found in a salt crystal is produced
only by the application of the four forces, which act like a sieve. Processed
order only arises from an information processor. The information processor
itself reflects processed order.
All of this processed order exists in nature. We observe it. It is not
imaginary. It is not speculative. Its existence is not a myth. Although
it is astonishing in its complexity, it is not mystical. Under these circumstances
it is not only legitimate but it is necessary that we allow ourselves to
observe and form conclusions of design if logical inferences derived from
the data lead us to do so. The fact that we may not be able to observe
the designer because of its alleged existence outside nature, should not
stop us from looking at and drawing logical inferences from the designs
that have been left in nature for us to observe. Furthermore, it is not
a given that the cause of any observed design is not in nature. The cause
may simply be in another galaxy or dimension not readily apparent to us.
Of course, if we put on blinders and don’t follow the evidence of
design we will never know.
The second argument is that design inferences will promote religion. Since
that is not the job of science, the argument is made that we should divorce
ourselves from all inferences of design. The defect in the argument is
that the approach of prohibiting design inferences and allowing only materialistic
answers has the effect of doing precisely the same thing. The narrow scientific
approach of promoting only naturalistic explanations of the universe has
the effect of promoting a religion of atheism and hindering and undermining
the exercise of all other theistic religions.
The Standards justify the exclusion of design inferences by implicitly
associating them with clearly inappropriate explanations:
" Explanations based on myths, personal beliefs, religious values, mystical
inspiration, superstition, or authority may be personally useful and socially
relevant, but they are not scientific."
I don’t think anyone quarrels with this list. It is a smoke screen.
What is fundamentally misleading about the list is that it omits the primary
area of inquiry that the standards and science implicitly tries to keep
off limits. As mentioned, the area which is the real target of many scientists
is any belief, whether or not based on observable evidence, that things
in nature have been designed. We are instructed to not look for homicides
- only accidental events. Many scientists and the Standards proceed from
the assumption that things in nature can not be planned or purposeful.
They can only be the result of chance occurrences driven by the four forces,
the laws of nature and the characteristics of matter, energy and kinetics.
It is with this view that the standards have incorrectly embraced Darwinian
natural selection, since it is the best theory available where an entire
area of inquiry is placed off limits. However, like the detective who is
forced to conclude that the painter’s death was accidental, we all
may very well be led down the wrong path.
Scientists must be permitted and encouraged to reach design inferences
from data that exists in nature, since there are no others qualified to
Being led down the wrong path is indeed a problem. It would not be nearly
so bad if some competent person was allowed to investigate the area that
is placed off limits. That is not the case. Science defines itself as the
only group competent to examine evidence which exists in nature. Hence,
if only scientists are allowed to draw conclusions concerning evidence
pregnant with design, and if that group consciously ignores the evidence,
what competent person is left to make a competent inquiry?
What if after deciding that the painter died by accident, the brother of
the painter, who is not a forensic detective stops by the house. He observes
the evidence and claims the death to have resulted from an intelligent
agent? His claim is ignored because he is not a qualified detective. But
even if he were a qualified detective, his claim would still be ignored
since it is inconsistent with the basic doctrine that only accidental causes
may be considered.
Of course, the consequence of censoring data that suggests design, is that
the data never gets properly investigated or considered. This is the real
vice of the scientific position that teleological explanations be ignored.
It is an illegitimate form of censorship.
Whether the universe and the life in it is designed or an accident is the
most important question in the world. It is a question that can only be
answered in any logical way by looking at data that exists in nature. That
is a task for scientists. They are the only qualified investigators. If
we allow them to prejudge the answer without looking at the evidence of
design, we will be doing a great disservice to our children and to mankind.
Thus, the most important defect in the Standards is their implicit prohibition
of design inferences from data that is observable in nature.Other corollary
objections to the standards.
I also have the following corollary objections to the Standards:1. The
standards mandate teachings that Darwinian Evolution, a mechanism of chance
is the only credible scientific theory relating to the origin and diversity
of life. This is a false teaching. There are many other scientific theories,
including the theory that life and its diversity results from intelligent
design. No mention of competing theories are included in the standards.
2. The standards mandate teachings that will mislead our children by mandating
the teaching of only theories of chance without explaining that legitimate
inferences of design may be drawn from the observable data. Many observable
evidences of design exist, including:* Comparisons of biological information
systems with those that are man made.
* Statistical studies support design theories. Those studies show that
the complexity of biological information systems cannot be explained by
chance based mechanisms, like Darwinian natural selection.
* The semantic character of biological information and the nature of biological
organisms as information processors is consistent with design inferences
and inconsistent with inferences that life results from chance based mechanisms,
which operate merely like sieves and which are not competent to produce
the processed order which exists in nature.
* The observation that biological information systems and machinery are
* The existence of laws, constants and forces necessary to life that fall
within statistically improbable narrow ranges.
*. The fossil record which shows that* Extraordinarily complex biological
information processing systems first appear in the fossil record only a
few hundred million years after the initial formation of the earth, and
* That subsequent changes in the complexity of living systems have appeared
abruptly after millions of years of stasis without evidence of transitional
3. The standards fail to require that students be warned about the following
material intellectual risks associated with a belief in the proposed Darwinian
* That many scientists and the standards refuse to consider observable
data in nature that suggests design.
* Therefore the explanations mandated by the Standards that life and its
diversity have resulted through the operation of chance based mechanisms
are explanations that have been developed without due consideration given
to all the available evidence.
* That this approach to science will preclude any inference that life and
its diversity may have been designed.
* That students are urged to also exclude any scientific consideration
of data that exists in nature that reflects design and to avoid any inferences
of design that may be logically derived from that data.
* That many scientists believe that this approach to science is absurd
and is likely to produce absurd results, conclusions and explanations regarding
the origins of life and its diversity.
4. The standards fail to explain that many scientists believe that scientific
inquiry should not be limited to efforts which seek to explain nature
only in materialistic terms and that students should decide for themselves
whether to consider scientific evidences of intelligent design.
5. By excluding design theories of origins the standards will drive students
away from avenues of scientific inquiry that could lead to major scientific
discoveries and societal benefits.
6. The imposition by the state of teaching standards that require the withholding
of scientific evidence of design to promote a materialistic and deterministic
view of the origins of life and its diversity will have the effect of undermining
the religious upbringing of students and to promote a belief and doctrine
that there is no god.
7. Although the Standards properly acknowledge that science should not
be concerned with religion, they fail to explain that true science does
not avoid or encourage students to avoid legitimate scientific inquiry
merely because the evidence may lead to teleological causes or answers.
The following changes should be made to correct the standards:
1. The definition of science should be revised to indicate that it is not
intended to preclude design inferences from observable data that exists
2. The standards should include a definition of intelligent design. The
standards should also encourage teachers to discus the data and evidences
in nature that support that theory as well as a discussion of the limitations
and criticisms of the theory.
3. The standards should include a more accurate and complete definition
of biological evolution. Many theories of Darwinian evolution abound. It
is not clear which theory the standards promote. The standards should also
encourage teachers to discus the data and evidences in nature that support
the various theories as well as a discussion of the limitations and criticisms
4. Although science should not prohibit logical inferences that arise from
naturally occurring data, it is not the purpose of biological science to
attempt to explain the religious or philosophical implications of the results
of any scientific inquiry, whether they may be design or chance based.
5. The standards should not mandate the content of teachings regarding
the origins of life and its diversity. In this regard the standards should
serve only as a suggested guide for the local school district.
John H. Calvert
July 13, 1999
Quotations Showing the Inherent Bias of Science Against Any Teleological
or Design Conclusion from Observed Data.1. "The important point is
that there can be nothing purposive or teleological in evolution; any notion
of inherent purpose would make nature less amendable to objective analysis.
For a biologist to call another a teleologist is an insult. Even orthogenesis,
is disliked. The sole force for change must be adaptation." [Robert
Wesson, Beyond Natural Selection, 10 (1991)]
2. "Michael Ruse holds that ‘the whole is composed of nothing
but its parts .....An organism is nothing but the molecules of which it
is made.’ (Ruse 1988,24). In this view, living organisms are nothing
more than elaborate physicochemical systems, the product of genes, or nucleic
acid sequences, reacting with their surroundings. ......Everything should
be mechanistically understandable as the behavior of material substance
guided by the laws of physics. ‘The ultimate aim of the modern movement
in biology.’ according to Francis Crick, ‘is to explain all
biology [his emphasis] in terms of physics and chemistry’ (Crick
1966, 10)." [Wesson 1991, 3].
3. "Reductionist science would like to see everything from physics
through chemistry and biology to psychology as potentially or theoretically
explicable in purely material terms. Although many phenomena are admittedly
too complex for concrete analysis, it is the scientific faith that everything
is ultimately learnable except why the universe exists - a question that
can be ignored as unanswerable." [Wesson 1991, 3]
4. "Science takes as its starting point the assumption that life wasn’t
made by a god or a supernatural being: it happened unaided and spontaneously,
as a natural process." [Davies, The Fifth Miracle, 28, (1999)].
5. "I’m not sure whether he disagrees with me or simply doesn’t
know what the word teleological means. It wouldn’t surprise me if
the latter was the case: He is generally insensitive to the unwritten rules
of scientific conduct, one of which is to scrupulously avoid even the faintest
teleological overtones." [Robert Wright, Three Scientists and Their
Gods, 70-71 (1988)].
6. "Similarly, the existence of bacteria and other living beings,
all of which are much more complex than a watch, implies the existence
of a creator, as only a higher being could design creatures so fit for
their function. We will not take this escape route in our book, for we
are committed to seeking an answer within the realm of science........We
must look for another solution if we wish to remain within science." [Shapiro,
Origins, at 119 (1986)].
7. ""The National Center for Science Education is concerned with
science as a way of knowing. You are confusing the necessity for science
to operate in a rational fashion only dealing with natural phenomenon,
only explaining natural phenomenon using natural processes, avoiding the
supernatural. I mean you simply have to avoid the supernatural in your
explanations if you are going to play by the rules of science..... When
you practice science. You can’t explain what is going on by recourse
to the supernatural - that is a very fundamental tenet of modern science.
That may have been the case 300 years ago, but in the 20th century science
this is absolutely essential." [Dr. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director
of the National Center for Science, in a debate with Phillip Johnson on
Wisconsin Public Radio in 1992].