Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Feature 4

Beginning with a fascinating biography of Mustafa Akyol, who will be testifying on Saturday, The Pitch offers Your OFFICIAL program to the Scopes II Kansas Monkey Trial. The best part is right here:
But what Harris and Calvert are talking about is philosophical naturalism, not the more practical kind of naturalism at the heart of science, which says only this: To understand nature, a scientist considers natural -- not supernatural -- causes.

KU biology doctoral student Josh Rosenau, who has closely watched the Kansas School Board's process, offers an example of what scientific naturalism means: "This winter, my downstairs neighbor's pipes froze. I wasn't aware of this. I just knew that my water wouldn't run," he tells the Pitch. "I could have concocted wild fantasies about supernatural forces seeking to punish me with dirty dishes and unbrushed teeth. But I didn't, and no one would. I assumed there was some natural process at work. I started by calling my landlord. He came, checked the pipes and thawed them. If that didn't work, I would have called the city and asked them to look into it. They would have checked that other pipes hadn't burst or frozen. They wouldn't have started offering sacrifices to the gods of plumbing."

Science works the same way. And whether you're trying to understand why your pipes are clogged or how the giraffe developed its long neck, looking for natural causes in no way requires you to give up your religious beliefs. Evolution -- and science in general -- is neutral to personal beliefs.

That's the message of Brown University's Kenneth Miller, who, in Finding Darwin's God, counters the intelligent-design movement's charge that to use science is to accept atheism. Miller is a Christian who says his understanding of evolution only deepens his faith. The two are not contradictory, he writes -- and to insert religion into science does a favor to neither.

When the Pitch asked Calvert how he could explain the fact that a scientist like Miller had no problem accepting evolution while also being a Christian, the lawyer said that Miller just "wants to keep his job."

Feature 5
You may all worship me at your leisure. And the rest of the piece is pretty good too. Especially the illustrations, like the nice one of Steve Abrams and Kathy Martin (above), though the Michael Behe (below) is pretty sweet.

OK, maybe the best part is this review of the hearings to come:
In order to make up its mind over what sort of biological concepts should be taught to Kansas schoolchildren, the state's school board is using taxpayer money to fly in a nonscientist associated with a group that terrorized Turkish professors who dared question that the proliferation of life on Earth was a miracle of Allah.
And if you read this paragraph, you might be able to pretend you were there:
Intelligent-design advocates have dressed up their arguments in scientific-sounding speech, but their objections to evolution have been around since Charles Darwin first published his theory in 1859. Intelligent-design proponents will claim that evolution is a failed theory that's being abandoned by scientists. (It isn't.) They'll say the news media suppress the huge controversy that is actually raging over evolution in scientific circles. (We aren't, because there isn't one.) They'll claim that evolution requires scientists to give up their religious beliefs and adopt an immoral, materialistic belief system. (It doesn't.) And if we're really lucky, they'll try to explain to nonscientist school-board members how the proteins in the flagella of tiny bacteria inspire their theories.
Tony Ortega gets it. He's been talking to scientists, inviting comment from the IDolators, and filtering it all through the finely tuned BS detector that any reporter must have.

The nice thing about the Pitch is that they have the freedom to call a spade a spade. The Star probably feels obliged to contact shovel manufacturers and run quotes from each side of the spade/shovel debate. A smart reporter knows the difference.

In reporting on the attacks on science, there should be more sentences like these:
Intelligent-design proponents will claim that evolution is a failed theory that's being abandoned by scientists. (It isn't.)
Could he have brought in a scientist to respond to the claim that evolution is a failed theory? Sure, but he didn't have to. He talked to dozens of scientists, he read some of the literature, and he made his assessment of the situation. Honestly, that's what reporters are hired to do. Compare that to the "he said, she said" reporting in the CSM article.

Anyway, soapbox off. Read the article.