Thursday, 18 September 2008

New Blog on the Block

I have helped out at this new Blog and I recommend it to the readers of this blog.

TiS are attempting to keep their activities in schools out of the spot light - Andy McIntosh said so himself to me last year - and the BCSE is our best chance of spotting them in action and sending them scurrying for the shadows again.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Creationism Hits Scotland

Rival to evolution may enter schools
Intelligent design considered for science curriculum

INTELLIGENT DESIGN, a controversial alternative theory to evolution, could become part of the science curriculum in Scottish schools.

The Sunday Herald has learned that the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is considering provision for the theory as part of a review of the science course curriculum.

Intelligent design (ID) is one of a wide range of theories of origin currently taught as part of the Religious, Moral and Philosophy Studies (RMPS) SQA course, but could be moved elsewhere as part of the review. A spokesman for the SQA said: "It happens to sit in RMPS just now. If and when it does becomes part of the curriculum for science, which it may well do as part of this review, then that's where it could sit."
Here we go again. From here.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Truth In Science finally come clean - Intelligent Design IS Creationism

This recent news blog posting seems to have finally let the deity out of the bag with TiS now happily equating Intelligent Design with Creationism.

This follows years of tripping over themselves to avoid the G word.

Own goal?

Well anyone observing their activities with half an objective eye knew what they were doing anyway, and their main objective was always to attract religious converts, so perhaps we might have predicted this move all along.

Of course the actual phrase "Intelligent Design" is quite new and was adopted by creationists as an attempt to remove any religious inference from creationism (that is not a joke) so as to avoid the US constitution which prevents the teaching of religion in US state schools.

Independent observers and scientists pointed out all along that ID was just Creationism in a cheap tuxedo and the US courts agreed.

Now it appears that TiS have finally given up trying to pass off this transparent and flimsy argument and are getting down to the brass tacks of proselytising for religious converts.

Do we want this in science classrooms in the UK?

Society for Neuroscience statement on Evoltuion and Intelligent Design

SfN statement on Evolution versus Intelligent Design

Recognizing that the principles of evolution are fundamental to understanding and studying the origins and diversity of living things, the Society for Neuroscience opposes the assertion that teaching intelligent design theory is a valid scientific alternative to teaching evolution in science classrooms.

The theory of evolution is accepted with remarkable consensus throughout the scientific community. The evidence in its support has accumulated over the past 160 years-from fields as disparate as paleontology and genomics-and is overwhelming. Scientific advances in the field of evolution, as in every other field of science, are obtained on the basis of respectful debate, the continuous search for truth, and meticulous investigation to accept or reject ideas supported by evidence. In this regard, education on evolution and on science in general provides tools for a better understanding of ourselves and the world and also provides individuals with a language for universal understanding, mutual respect, and tolerance.

Intelligent design is the most recent attempt by creationists to undermine the theory of evolution in the science classroom. Thwarted by past legal decisions upholding the separation of church and state, proponents of intelligent design have resorted to masking their religious beliefs with the pseudo-scientific language of this theory. By invoking "intelligent forces" to account for biological diversity, however, intelligent design presents a theory that is as supernatural and unscientific as the traditional creationist one. In fact, intelligent design theory runs counter to the established principles of science in that it is not based on evidence or testable through the scientific method. Intelligent design is not science, and has no place in the science classroom.

The process underpinning evolution - natural selection - has been widely and thoroughly documented. As in all areas of active research, scientists continue to debate the details. Yet these disagreements should not be misconstrued, as they have been by creationists, as evidence of fundamental problems with the theory. There is consensus within the scientific community about the overall validity of Darwin's theory. In fact, evolution is still evident today; with bacterial resistance to antibiotics and potential mutations in influenza that could impact avian flu transmission as examples that profoundly affect world health. Evolution is an essential component of modern science education. K-12 science education based on anything other than tested and accepted scientific theory is detrimental to the education of America's youth.

Creationists often argue that religious and scientific worldviews are incompatible, asserting that it is impossible to be both actively religious and accept the theory of evolution. However, many people, including prominent scientists, embrace both evolution and a belief in God. SfN strongly disputes the claims made by advocates of intelligent design that subscribing to a scientific view of the world is incompatible with religious experience.

The Society for Neuroscience supports the teaching of evolution, and opposes the teaching of intelligent design in science classrooms. Education about evolution is essential to our future competitiveness as a nation, so it is imperative that an understanding of this fundamental scientific theory be shared with the school children of America. The mixing of faith or religious belief with the scientific method is not a sound lesson for our children's education.

SfN publishes the Journal of Neuroscience.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Scientists rally against creationist 'superstition'

From here.

To mark a double anniversary celebrating Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, his supporters are taking the fight to their opponents

The rise of creationism in Britain to the point where four out of 10 Britons believe it to be the literal truth – as well as the idea being taught in state-approved schools – has spread alarm throughout the scientific community.

But this week sees the start of a concerted fightback, as an 18-month celebration of evolution and its greatest proponent, Charles Darwin, gets under way, marking the 150th anniversary of the unveiling of his theory and the 200th anniversary of his birth.

People all over Europe will take part in a mass experiment to discover evolutionary changes to a species of snail; a major series of programmes is to be shown by the BBC; several books are to be published; and the Open University plans a new course on the subject.

Entries for a competition to design "Darwin's Canopy" – a piece of art to cover a ceiling in the Natural History Museum – will be unveiled this week, and the museum will hold a major exhibition on Darwin beginning in November.

Dr Bob Bloomfield, head of special projects at the museum and a key figure in the "Darwin200" project, said he was concerned by the prevalence of creationist ideas.

"The statistics in this country are quite frightening. If you add up the percentages that either believe in creationism or intelligent design, it is approaching 40 per cent," he said.

"I don't think society can be complacent when ideas which are unsound are perpetrated. We are trying not to compromise people's faith views, other than where they are absolutely inconsistent with science."

He said the teaching of creationism in schools was "very problematic".

Professor Jonathan Silvertown of the Open University, who is writing a book entitled 99% Ape: How Evolution Adds Up, said the OU would be running a course called Darwin and Evolution. "The idea is to give people a feel for the modern evidence," he said.

He and the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, are involved in a mass science project to study changes in banded snails, by recruiting tens of thousands of people across Europe.

Professor Jones said religious students – even those studying medicine – were becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to evolution, saying he was "telling lies and insulting people's religion" by teaching the subject.

"They want permission not to come to those lectures and sit those exam questions," he said. "I have been teaching genetics and evolutionary biology for 30 years and for the first 20 I think the issue arose once. That's changed."

Saturday, 8 March 2008

International Society for Science & Religion condemns ID

From here;

The intelligent-design (ID) movement began in the late 1980s as a challenge to the perceived secularization of the scientific community, which leaders of the movement maintained had been coloured with the philosophy of atheistic naturalism. ID theorists have focused their critique primarily on biological evolution and the neo-Darwinian paradigm. They claim that because certain biological features appear to be "irreducibly complex" and thus incapable of evolving incrementally by natural selection, they must have been created by the intervention of an intelligent designer. Despite this focus on evolution, intelligent design should not be confused with biblical or "scientific" creationism, which relies on a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

We believe that intelligent design is neither sound science nor good theology. Although the boundaries of science are open to change, allowing supernatural explanations to count as science undercuts the very purpose of science, which is to explain the workings of nature without recourse to religious language. Attributing complexity to the interruption of natural law by a divine designer is, as some critics have claimed, a science stopper. Besides, ID has not yet opened up a new research program. In the opinion of the overwhelming majority of research biologists, it has not provided examples of "irreducible complexity" in biological evolution that could not be explained as well by normal scientifically understood processes. Students of nature once considered the vertebrate eye to be too complex to explain naturally, but subsequent research has led to the conclusion that this remarkable structure can be readily understood as a product of natural selection. This shows that what may appear to be "irreducibly complex" today may be explained naturalistically tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

New book on Evolution and Creationism by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine

From the NAS website;

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.
In the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.
Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.

This book is free in PDF form and available for download here.