Sunday, May 09, 2004

New Edition of ID Textbook Most scientific theories have to go through an extensive period of testing and review before they are given pride of place in school textbooks. The idea is to wait until a theory proves its worth before presenting it to students.

The downside of this approach is that a theory that fails every empirical test and makes no contribution to science will never be presented to students. That especially sucks if your theory exists for the sole purpose of indoctirnating impressionable teenagers. All of which helps to explain why ID proponents have decided to skip the step where their theory has to earn some grudging acceptance from the scientific community and have gone straight to the texbook writing stage instead.

Over a decade ago the first (and only) ID textbook was published, entitled Of Pandas and People. A team of ID writers, including Michael Behe and William Dembski, have published a new, thoroughly updeated, edition of this hoary tribute to ignorance and intellectual cowardice. The table of contents, preface, and afterword of the book are available in PDF format here.

The brazen dishonesty gets started right in the first paragraph of the preface:

A decade has passed since Of Pandas and People's second edition appeared in print. Written by Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon, this book was the first intelligent design textbook. In fact, it was the first place where the phrase “intelligent design” appeared in its present use. Since the second edition of Pandas, intelligent design (or ID as it is now abbreviated) has gone from a small and marginalized protest against Darwinian evolution to a comprehensive intellectual program for reconceptualizing biology. Ten years ago intelligent design consisted mainly of sporadic criticisms of Darwinism and offered only vague glimmers of what a positive science of intelligent design might entail. Since then, intelligent design has laid the foundations for a general biology whose fundamental organizing principle is intelligent agency and not blind natural forces.

Actually, ID is still a small and marginalized protest against Darwinian evolution. That is all it will ever be among scientists. And if they have actualy laid a foundation for a positive science of ID, I have seen no trace of it. If such a foundation were really in place they would be spending their time doing science and producing results. Instead they spend their time writing textbooks and lying to nonscientists.

The authors go on to write:

The impact of intelligent design is being felt both in the scientific community and in the culture at large. Front page stories in major
newspapers like the New York Times are giving intelligent design respectful treatment (in their science section no less). Television dramas, movies, and popular novels are exploring the theme of intelligent design. And of course, intelligent design is being fiercely debated throughout the academic world. Consequently, it is high time to issue a revised and expanded edition of Pandas that reflects the progress of intelligent design over the last ten years.

There is not a science department in the country that is having a serious debate about the worth of ID. Their respectful treatment from The New York Times consists of a single, bemused but not overtly hostile article three years ago. Conspicuously absent from the Times, or any other publication, is any report on the progress ID folks are making in revolutionizing biology.

It will be interesting to see if any but a handful of conservative Christian colleges adopt this book.


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