Those seeking to suppress the evidence of design have been promoting a resolution adopted by The Ohio Academy of Science on February 28, 2000. The resolution urges Ohio educators and legislators to censor Intelligent Design and promote evolution as the only permitted explanation for the origin of life and the "cosmos." The resolution is attached.
The purpose of the OAS to censor any theory of origins other than Darwinian evolution is consistent with its undisclosed adherence to methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism assumes, without objective consideration of the evidence, that the known laws of chemistry and physics are adequate to account for life and its diversity and that design conceptions of nature are invalid. Rather than disclose that design is merely assumed to be invalid, the resolution would lead one to believe that design has been rejected on its merits and is nothing more than a faith-based religious belief. Due to this non-disclosure and its misleading characterization of design theory, the Academy is actually promoting philosophical naturalism rather than science. Rather than acting as an unbiased investigator of origins, it has become an advocate for a naturalistic world view. It seeks to impose that view on the children of Ohio through the use of state facilities funded with the tax dollars of Ohioans.
We agree that religious beliefs should not be taught in science, however, neither should a "nonreligious" or naturalistic "belief" that life is the product of an unguided and purposeless process. By censoring the only hypothesis competitive with Darwinian evolution the Academy seeks to impose its own belief system and world view on our culture.
The Academy's statement that the "theory of evolution, as presently defined, fully satisfies" stated criteria of "hypothesis testing," "experimentation," "explanations that are open to further testing, revision, and falsification" and that may be "accepted or rejected on the basis of evidence," is belied by the purpose of the statement itself. The only way evolution can ever have scientific validity is by allowing its claims to be tested against the competing claims and evidence of design. However, the resolution seeks to protect evolution from that test. The only way evolution can ever be falsified is by allowing its claims to be falsified by evidence that life is the product of a guided process. The only way the evidence of evolution can be eligible for acceptance or rejection "on the basis of evidence" is to allow objective consideration of the evidence which would cause one to reject it. If we are only shown the evidence which will cause us to accept it, then evolution indeed becomes nothing more than a "faith."
The resolution also implies incorrectly that evolution has been tested by experiment and is "falsifiable." That is not necessarily the case. As the eminent evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr has stated, "evolutionary biology is a historical science - the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain." In the same article in the July 2000 issue of Scientific American, Mayr also said that "Karl Popper's famous test of falsification" could not be applied to evolutionary biology. Even worse, falsification becomes practically impossible when the Academy uses a naturalistic assumption that excludes a priori the competing evidence of design. This assumption allows only one story - only a "historical narrative" that fits within the undisclosed naturalistic assumption. Thus evolutionary biology becomes nothing more than "story telling" in the name of science, not science.
The Academy would have us believe that "it respects the right of people to hold diverse beliefs about creation that do not come within the definition of science." This is inconsistent with the Academy's use of an undisclosed assumption that rules out evidence that supports beliefs about creation. The office of science is not to suppress evidence because of its implications. The office of science is to show it in spite of its implications. Just as it is appropriate for science to show evidence that supports the naturalistic notion of nature being driven by a purposeless and unguided Darwinian process, so to is it appropriate, indeed even necessary, for it to show evidence that contradicts that view.
The advocacy of the Academy for a Naturalistic world view becomes even more clear when it charges those in the Intelligent Design movement with a hidden agenda to impose "religious beliefs" upon teachers and students. The Academy should know that an inference of design from the data is not a religion, just as an inference of no design from the data is not a religion. Although both have religious implications, neither standing alone is a religion. The only hidden agenda presently operative is that of the Academy in its failure to disclose the fact that its conclusions are based on the hidden assumption of methodological naturalism. The promotion of this naturalistic world view, which is the foundation of secular humanism, is a practice that has the real effect of "imposing religious beliefs upon teachers and students."
The statement that "intelligent design" has no scientific validity, is a disingenuous claim that is based not on an observation of the evidence, but on the Academy's naturalistic assumption against design that is not disclosed in its quoted definition of science. The Academy's resolution expressly defines science as "a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena, explanations that are open to further testing, revision, and falsification, and while not "believed in" through faith may be accepted or rejected on the basis of evidence." The design hypothesis fits squarely within this definition. It is subject to testing and falsification - even more so than the claims of evolutionary biology. The principal difference is that design welcomes the challenge of evolution, while evolution seeks to be protected from the test of the evidence of design. Until evolution welcomes the challenge of design, it will not have been tested, it will not have subjected itself to falsification and it will have no scientific validity.
IDnet agrees that the state should not impose on the curriculum through legislation or otherwise "religious beliefs that are not amenable to the process of scrutiny, testing, and revision that is indispensable to science." However, it is also true that the state should avoid the imposition of "naturalistic beliefs that are not amenable to the process of scrutiny, testing, and revision that is indispensable to science." We are not promoting the former, but we do seek to stop the latter. The best example of this may be found in HB 481 which encourages schools to present explanations of our origins objectively and without religious, naturalistic or philosophic bias or assumption. Where assumptions are used they must be appropriately disclosed. The Academy seeks to discourage HB 481 and its required disclosure of the Academy's hidden assumption. It seeks to perpetuate that hidden naturalistic agenda and thereby promote "beliefs that are not amenable to the process of scrutiny, testing and revision that is indispensable to science."
The Academy's true objective is reflected in the final operative clause of its resolution which, like a campaign slogan, seeks to promote evolution, not as a scientific concept that is subject to criticism, but as a world view that allows no contradiction.
Thomas Huxley said: "Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed." The Academy has adopted a creed. Science is not a democracy, but it is a trust. The Academy is not promoting that trust with its resolution.
William S. Harris, Ph.D
by The Ohio Academy of Science
and Opposition to Forced Teaching of Creationist Beliefs such as "Intelligent Design"
in Public School Science Education
WHEREAS, is a responsibility of The Ohio Academy of Science to preserve the integrity of science, and
WHEREAS, science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, and theory building, which leads to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena, explanations that are open to further testing, revision, and falsification, and while not "believed in" through faith may be accepted or rejected on the basis of evidence; and
WHEREAS, the theory of evolution, as presently defined, fully satisfies these criteria, especially when its teaching considers the remaining debates concerning its detailed mechanisms; and
WHEREAS, the Academy respects the right of people to hold diverse beliefs about creation that do not come within the definition of science; and
WHEREAS, some Creationist groups are intent on imposing religious beliefs disguised as science upon teachers and students to the detriment and distortion of public education in the United States;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that because "Creation Science" and "Intelligent Design" have no scientific validity, they should not be taught as science, and further that the OAS views legislation requiring such religious views to be taught in public schools, as though these were legitimate arguments against evolution that should be included as part of a so-called balanced treatment approach, to be a real and present threat to the integrity of education and the teaching of science; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the OAS urges citizens, educational authorities, and legislators to oppose the compulsory inclusion in the curricula, the state competencies or proficiency tests for science education of religious beliefs that are not amenable to the process of scrutiny, testing, and revision that is indispensable to science.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the OAS urges citizens, educational authorities, and legislators to include, explicitly, cosmic, geological and biological evolution in the curricula, state competencies and proficiency tests for science education.
Revised and Approved February 28, 2000 by the Executive Committee of The Ohio Academy of Science, based on a similar resolution adopted by the Academy on April 23, 1982.The resolution may be found at: http://www.ohiosci.org/EVOLRESOLUTIONFinalApprovedFeb282000.htm