A letter to the editor worth noting

I’ve been staying away from posting letters to the editor on this blog, because there are so many of them. But this one I thought was worth taking note of due in part to what it says and in part to who wrote it. This was in the Palm Beach Post today and is from State Rep. Dan Gelber.

Intelligent design teachings not smart for public schools

Florida is in the midst of determining whether intelligent design and creationism should be taught alongside evolution in our public schools. It would be a great mistake to give intelligent design, or any other faux science, a home in Florida’s science classes.

The state Board of Education will soon vote to accept or reject new science standards for teachers that must be updated to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and the culture wars are heating up. When the Department of Education released its proposed standards in October, for the first time the word evolution was included as a standard to the agreement of many in the educational and scientific community.

The Board of Education is likely to vote on the new science standards in February. No matter what the outcome, legislators will have an opportunity to have their say when the legislative session convenes the following month. I fear the worst.

One of the problems with teaching intelligent design as the “other side” of Charles Darwin’s scientific theory is that it is not an opposing scientific theory. It is religion posing as science. While the theory of evolution argues that man and other species evolve through the process of natural selection, intelligent design is an assertion that living things are simply so complex that they are best explained as the act of some intelligent designer.

Intelligent design cannot be tested scientifically because it is ultimately premised on something that cannot be proven scientifically: faith. This is why it is so dangerous, to both religion and science, to teach them side by side. Imagine debates in science classes about what part a higher deity had in designing life. While knowledge of scientific theories can be tested, how would a teacher grade a student’s support of creationism based solely on faith?

If you have to teach creationism because it has been dressed up in a pretend scientific theory, what about those creation theories that forgo involvement of a deity and credit man’s creation to intelligent designers from another galaxy? Imagine how parents would react when they hear their child learned from the science teacher that aliens created the Earth and everything on it, without any scientific evidence.

Florida should resist efforts to include “intelligent design” in public school science classes. Mixing faith and science can only harm both.

D-Miami Beach

My thanks to Rep. Gelber for being courageous enough to submit this. Take note of the part where he says: “No matter what the outcome, legislators will have an opportunity to have their say when the legislative session convenes the following month. I fear the worst.” Please write to Gelber thanking him for his support of science and asking him what we the citizens can do to help.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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7 Responses to A letter to the editor worth noting

  1. Joe G says:

    Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion. ID does not say who, how, why, when, where or how to worship.

    ID is based on observations and scientific data.

    The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer.—Dr Behe

    As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.- Wm. Dembski page 33 of The Design Revolution


    The Universe


    Is the universe the result of intentional design?


    1) If the universe was the product of a common design then I would expect it to be governed by one (common) set of parameters.

    2) If the universe were designed for scientific discovery then I would expect a strong correlation between habitability and measurability.

    3) Also if the universe was designed for scientific discovery I would expect it to be comprehensible.


    1) Try to determine if the same laws that apply every place on Earth also apply throughout the universe.

    2) Try to determine the correlation between habitability and measurability.

    3) Try to determine if the universe is comprehensible.

    Potential falsification:

    1) Observe that the universe is chaotic.

    2) A- Find a place that is not habitable but offers at least as good of a platform to make scientific discoveries as Earth or B- Find a place that is inhabited but offers a poor platform from which to make scientific discoveries.

    3) Observe that we cannot comprehend the universe, meaning A) what applies locally does not apply throughout or B) what applies in one scenario, even locally, cannot be used/ applied in any similar scenario, even locally.


    1) Tests conducted all over the globe, on the Moon and in space confirm that the same laws that apply here also apply throughout the universe.

    2) All scientific data gathered to date confirm that habitability correlates with measurability.

    3) “The most incomprehensible thing about our universe is that it is comprehensible.” Albert Einstein


    Living organisms


    Are living organisms the result of intentional design?


    If living organisms were the result of intentional design then I would expect to see that living organisms are (and contain subsystems that are) irreducibly complex and/ or contain complex specified information. IOW I would expect to see an intricacy that is more than just a sum of chemical reactions (endothermic or exothermic).

    Further I would expect to see command & control- a hierarchy of command & control would be a possibility.


    Try to deduce the minimal functionality that a living organism. Try to determine if that minimal functionality is irreducibly complex and/or contains complex specified information. Also check to see if any subsystems are irreducibly complex and/ or contain complex specified information.

    Potential falsification:

    Observe that living organisms arise from non-living matter via a mixture of commonly-found-in-nature chemicals. Observe that while some systems “appear” to be irreducibly complex it can be demonstrated that they can indeed arise via purely stochastic processes such as culled genetic accidents. Also demonstrate that the apparent command & control can also be explained by endothermic and/or exothermic reactions.


    Living organisms are irreducibly complex and contain irreducibly complex subsystems. The information required to build and maintain a single-celled organism is both complex and specified.

    Command & control is observed in single-celled organisms- the bacterial flagellum not only has to be configured correctly, indicating command & control over the assembly process, but it also has to function, indicating command & control over functionality.

    Conclusion (scientific inference)

    Both the universe and living organisms are the result of intention design.

    Any future research can either confirm or refute this premise, which, for the biological side, was summed up in Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

  2. Joe G says:

    One more thing- the theory of evolution relies on faith because there isn’t any scientific data which can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans.

    People say that the genetic differences account for the physiological and anatomical differences but there isn’t any genetic data that supports that point of view.

    In other words the bottom line is universal common descent cannot be objectively tested- and that is in the absence of a proposed mechansim. And according to the theory of evolution all genetic mutations are mistakes, ie genetic accidents.

    And the bottom line is to refute ID- to make it go away- all one has to do is to actually support the theory of evolution with actual scientific data.

    Yet as it stands no one can even test the premise that a population of bacteria sans flagellum can evolve even one bacterial flagellum via genetic mistakes.

    How would parents react to the teaching of the theory of evolution if they knew of what I just posted? And then the question would be why do you keep those facts from the parents and students?

  3. Jerry T says:

    Since Joe G has given us a quote from scientist-wannabe Behe, let me give you one from the Wedge document:

    Governing Goals
    • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.
    Five Year Goals
    • To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
    • To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
    • To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.
    Twenty Year Goals
    • To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
    • To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.
    • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life

    Do you feel at all foolish for being suckered into being a part of a deliberate and duplicitous effort to impose a purely religious view onto your fellow citizens? Using ID to reach those goals is clever since ID sounds good at first – just like it did 200 years ago – yet upon close inspection makes no more sense today than it did back then.

    I get a headache reading the unrelenting ‘inanity’ spewing forth from all the know-nothing dimwits out there. In contrast to all the crap you keep repeating over and over, the information regarding evolution that is presented in order to further your education (which you simply ignore) has withstood legitimate scientific scrutiny for over 150 years.

    So, here is my simple challenge to all you wet-brain christian nationalists: “publish or perish”.

    ID has had the opportunity to publish peer reviewed scientific journal articles since Paley’s laughable watch analogy in 1802. So, go ahead, take another year or two and then submit all your papers.

    And please, please don’t give me any of your whiny “they’re out to stop us from publishing” conspiracy B.S. After all, we KNOW who the ‘designer’ is and we KNOW the real purpose of your fabricated ‘controversy’. We know how and when ID was dusted off and re-introduced to the “we’ll believe anything you tell us” masses. And we also KNOW why you MUST present ID as legitimate science.

    But here’s a news flash for all you close-minded sheep: regardless of what you think – or hope to achieve – history shows us that scientific progress, like evolution, is an unstoppable juggernaut even your ‘designer’ can’t hold back. As for that “materialism” stuff you dread so much – well, let’s just say that you might want to try to fit that into your one-dimensional lives.

    Meanwhile, I am also taking a lesson from history and don’t intend to be another passive ‘meek and tolerant intellectual’. I intend to loudly and vigorously ridicule each and every one of you close-minded intellectual midgets – every opportunity I get. It’s time for you to put up or shut up. I for one am tired of your ceaseless stupidity.

  4. Joe G says:

    Umm Dr Behe is a scientist. BTW I am not a Christian. ID does NOT require a belief in “God”.

    IDists have publisghed in peer reviewed journals.

    There isn’t anything in peer-reviewed journals that accounts for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans- and we have sequenced both genomes.

    Do you feel foolish by being suckered in by ignorant atheists?

    To make ID go away all you have to do is support your point of view with actual scientific data. Yet you choose to be close-minded while accusing us of being so.

    But anyway Jerry T all that hate-filled diatribe and no one bit of evidence.

    IOW JT the ceaseless stupidity is all yours.

    Now it is obvious that Jerry T is close-minded, if he has one, but here is the Discovery Institute’s response to the “Wedge Document”- for the open-minded:


    The bottom-line is nonsense from Jerry T will not make ID go away. And I would love for you to try to ridicule me. For it is obvious that is all you have. However if you could just support your nonsensical point of view that relies on sheer dumb luck- all mutations are genetic accidents/ mistakes according to you evolutionitwits- then ID would go away.

    But I know you will NEVER present any scientific data that supports your position, because you don’t have any.

  5. Joe G says:

    Another correction to Jerry T’s post-

    Intelligent Design traces its roots back at least to the ancient Greeks when teleology was argued for by the likes of Socrates, Plato, Diogenes and Aristotle- the teleologists. The non-teleologists were represented by the likes of Democritus, Leucippus of Elea, and Epicurus of Samos.

    The teleologists and non-teleologists both looked at the same world- one saw purpose and the other did not. To the non-teleologist chance plus time was enough.

    Today it is the same. Either we are here via some grand (or not so grand) design or we owe our existence to sheer dumb luck. And the only way to account for the laws that govern this universe in the absence of some intentional design, is to say “they just are (the way they are)”*, and leave it at that.

    *”A Briefer History of Time” S. Hawking

  6. Jerry T says:

    Shame on you; I do believe you and your ID buddies are not being completely honest.

    You mention ‘atheists’ – this suggests to me that you are indeed a ‘theist’ and you have the audacity to say that ID doesn’t need a god – this convinces me that you most certainly ARE an ill-informed ‘fundie’. Just who WOULD be this so-called designer Bob? This transparent (and dishonest) strategy of not specifying the ‘designer’ may go well with those of your intellectual level but the rest of us know EXACTLY what it refers to.

    I certainly HAVE read the Wedge rebuttal and it’s nothing more than an elaborate spin – an attempt to wiggle out of an embarrassment.

    I will AGAIN refer you to the original Wedge doc (have you read it?) wherein the Discovery Institute whack-jobs (most likely Phil himself) quite clearly states that ‘Darwinism’ is the root cause of the world’s problems. The doc also outlines how they’ve resurrected “intelligent design” to pose as a new competing “theory” – the so-called ‘tip of the wedge’. The doc mentions so-called scientists they’ve recruited for this purpose – naming Behe specifically. Come on Bob – how much more specific can you get? The Wedge document discovery was simply God’s way of exposing the underhanded duplicity of the Discovery Institute and the “anti Darwinists”.

    By the way, I’m also convinced you’re just another dirt-ball ‘fundie’ because your first post is mostly plagiarism of Behe’s blog – were you trying to sound smart by pasting in that gibberish? Your most recent posts however are a pretty good example of how your own mind works – you obviously don’t know WHAT evolution is even though you have some pretty strong opinions about it (how many times have we seen that before?).

    Speaking of “scientist” Behe – just ten minutes of your time will show you that his own Lehigh University has – not one – but at least TWO disclaimers on its web site. I’m only guessing when I say that he’s probably still on staff only because he’s tenured – his own University has disowned him – but I do know that the only reason he pursued a science career in the first place was so that he could try to use science to disprove his own personal delusion. He is nothing more than a ‘sponsored’ leg-humper for the Discovery Institute.

    “The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”

    “Official Disclaimer – My ideas about irreducible complexity and intelligent design are entirely my own. They certainly are not in any sense endorsed by either Lehigh University in general or the Department of Biological Sciences in particular. In fact, most of my colleagues in the Department strongly disagree with them.”

    Does Behe voluntarily add this disclaimer to his own web page? No, and he’s considered a buffoon in the scientific community – even by those he works with: http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/faculty/index.htm
    Note to Behe: get rid of those stupid pictures of the mousetrap and the flagellum.

    Another so-called “scientist” (in case you decide to bring him up) is mathematician Dembski. One minute listening to his asinine ‘tornado through a junk yard’ analgy tells us the HE has no idea what evolution any more than you do. At any rate, his analgy sure sounds reasonable on the surface – but of course has nothing to do with evolution. He too has failed to ‘prove’ what he believes in the face of all contrary evidence. (Here’s a hint why he fails: he uses words like ‘sheer luck’ and ‘random’ just like you).

    Who’s your next scientist Bob? Kirk Cameron perhaps?

    Bob, you say “But anyway Jerry T all that hate-filled diatribe and no one bit of evidence.” This makes me laugh and cry – are you for real? I refuse to get into another back-and-forth science debate with another lame-brain.

    As for peer reviewed articles in support of ID, I would like you to submit just 20 – no, make it 10 – articles in support of ID (just ONE of which has not been refuted). That would be less than 0.1% of the approximately 10,000 articles related to evolution that have been published since the mid-1970’s. Good luck – I myself know of only one and it was refuted almost immediately. I’ll bet YOU haven’t read a single peer reviewed scientific article of ANY kind. The “no evidence” you refer to is obviously the sum total of your science education.

    Twenty supporting articles would be nothing to a graduate student but for your first experience I recommend this one:
    Shanks and Joplin. Philosophy of Science 67, 155-162.
    Or perhaps this might be more on your level of understanding:

    So what’s REALLY going on here Bob? I could go on and on (and on and on) but my point is that, despite the enormous amount of ‘educating’ going on out there, the same arguments pop up over and over again. Ask yourself why. Are people so gullible or stupid or just plain bull-headed? Is it all a dishonest attempt to stir up a false a “controversy” fomented by people who are very much aware of the evidence but only wish to further their agenda?

    It is all of the above.

    There are intelligent people who are perfectly aware of the bad science out there and that most of the “evidence” for ID is nothing more than attacks on the perceived ‘weaknesses’ in evolution. This crap is swallowed whole by the blind faithful who parrot all of it back out again – never having the ability or desire to understand their own words, let alone the constant rebuttals to their comments. Which one is you Bob?

    The whole thing is simply this: evolution is regarded by you as the root cause of all (or much) of the evil in the world today. Incredible as this ‘belief’ sounds – it is exactly what you “anti-Darwinists” think is true.

    And it’s as simple as that. It DOES NOT MATTER how much evidence is produced to prove the truth of evolution. You DON’T CARE about the truth – you think you already KNOW as much truth as you need and have only the goal of removing the source of society’s problems.

    Bob, your comments and concerns, in my opinion, address “social Darwinism” more than they have anything to do with evolution itself (of which you know little or nothing). But you need to know that your “world view” of “social Darwinism” is a fallacy. Evolution only explains the fact of how things ARE – it does not say how they SHOULD be. You can quit picking on Charlie D. now Bob.

    Bob, scientific progress IS unstoppable. You creationists can NOT succeed in replacing the truth with your stupidity (at least not forever). So my final comment to you is: “There is plenty of information already out there to prove me right when I call you stupid. If you refuse to become educated then I reserve the right to call you stupid.” Why shouldn’t I be able to say such things when some fool like you shows me a picture of a ‘crocoduck’ or tells me how a banana is ‘designed’? Why is it so important for me to be polite in the face of such amazingly unrelenting close-minded ignorance? These are rhetorical questions Bob (that means I don’t expect you to answer them).

    So I’m done wasting my time with “honest” Bob but I would like to say to any reasonable people following this thread:

    All this educating and talking and debating is a complete waste of the rational person’s time – the overriding goal of the creationists is to ‘remove’ “Darwinian Evolution” from our society – not to become educated in science. That’s it, nothing else matters to the “anti-Darwinists” and NO amount of talk will change their attitudes. Bob will no doubt come back with yet another brilliant rebuttal referring to Plato or something – smug in his belief that he has actually made some kind of intelligent point.

    For those who are speaking up for their children’s future I applaud you. For myself, as a person of faith and science, and a parent – I admire your courage in standing up.

    I also admire those people that admit they may not know a lot about a subject yet nevertheless endeavor to educate yourselves. You are the true open-minded, rational and compassionate intellectuals of our society.

    Anyone interested in an excellent video of Ken Miller (Professor of Biology, Brown University) should check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVRsWAjvQSg (YouTube – Ken Miller on Intelligent Design). Miller talks a bit about evolution and puts to rest all the inane arguments people like Bob put forth such as “irreducible complexity”. It’s VERY interesting – especially his comments about how this all went down in Dover.

    For a good laugh you can also Google: “cdesign proponentsists” and look at the video of Barbara Forrest. Ten minutes and you’ll be laughing all day.

  7. Noodlicious says:

    Joe G Says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 4:15 pm
    “ID is based on observations and scientific data.”

    “As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such.”

    Joe I ran a search for reported ID primary research on the “Web of Science” database comprising thousands of the top peer reviewed science journals and came up empty handed. Could you reference a published ID primary research paper written in formal scientific report format including the obligatory experimental “Materials & Methods” section for me.
    Please reference only articles accepted and published by reputable science publications.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

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