Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What could go wrong?

The city of El Tejon, CA will be offering a course in the Philosophy of Intelligent Design. The proposed syllabus shows the sort of careful, critical thought that will be applied to this complex societal controversy:
2. What is Intelligent Design? @ 5 days

… Why is it a movement?

… Why is it gaining momentum?

… Why is it so threatening to society?
Ah, so it's "gaining momentum" and "threatening to society." No value judgments there!

The course, taught by the district's special ed teacher (not, for instance, a science teacher or a teacher with a background in philosophy) will be conducted "by way of videos and discussion." Sounds like a nice class to sleep through.

It would, that is, if Ms. Sharon Lemburg hadn't promised to present Nobel Prize winning biochemist "Francis Krich [sic]." For those of you referentially opaque to that name, as educated people with a passing familiarity with biology, you may know him as Francis Crick, co-author of the paper describing the structure of DNA with James Watson.

Some say those two stole their insights from the now-deceased Rosalind Franklin, but that's nothing compared to the feat Ms. Lemburg will attempt as she brings the now deceased Crick to address her class on evolution, creationism, and perhaps even panspermia.

Why would someone who can't even spell Crick's name be inviting him to address her class?

According to one invited speaker (who refused to attend):

Sharon Lemburg said on 12/20 that she had gotten this name from Ross Anderson. Ross Anderson said on 12/20 that he had probably mentioned to S Lemberg that perhaps she could get a video of Francis Crick.
Ross Anderson, who was also invited to address this class, is a professor at The Master's College in Santa Clarita. At Master's College:
"We teach that the literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture which affirms the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis present creation in six literal days (Genesis 1:31; Exodus 31:17)."
The videos Ms. Lemburg will be showing are almost uniformly creationist, with a single mainstream documentary on Mt. St. Helens to round things out.

One video defends the proposition that:

at some time in the past much higher rates of radioisotope decay have occurred, leading to the production of large quantities of daughter products in a short period of time. It has been suggested that these increased decay rates may have been associated with the rock-forming processes on the early earth, and possibly one of the results of Godís judgment upon man following Creation. The RATE group suspects that large amounts of radioactive decay may have occurred during the first two and a half days of Creation as part of the supernatural Creation process. The jury is still out and, until we complete our research phase, this thesis remains tentative. The presence of supernatural 'process' during Creation is essential to our approach, however. Scripture talks of at least two major events which occurred after Creation, the Judgment in the Garden of Eden and the Flood. It would seem appropriate to consider at least that an original distribution of elements could have been mixed, and radioactive processes speeded up during one or both of these events.
It would seem even more appropriate not to consider this tripe in a public school class.

It's young earth creationist BS, and has no basis in fact (or philosophy).

I'm all for a serious course on the philosophy of science. I think it would be for the best, and I think that if the teacher wanted to discuss IDC in such a course, it wouldn't be problematic.

This is just petty, though.