A Response to the new commentary on Mr. Knapp's May 2003  updated website

On or about the 1st of May (2003), Mr. Knapp unveiled an updated version of his website which now includes a link to this site. I had previously requested the link and thank him for providing it. According to the introduction on his updated home page, the remodeling job was prompted by the necessity of dealing with some of the "propaganda" on this website.  I am happy to have played a part in spurring him on to dress things up a bit.  I must admit that the appearance of his new home page is considerably improved over that of his previous design.  Too bad that the same cannot be said for its content.

The following are some thoughts on the newer commentary offered by Mr. Knapp on his updated website.

[Note - My response was directed at Mr. Knapp's homepage as it appeared during May 2003.  The layout of his homepage has been modified since then.  Nonetheless, as far as I can determine, Mr. Knapp has not changed his position on any of the statements that he made on his homepage at that time.  My comments are, therefore, still relevant to our continuing dialogue.]

 FLUMMOXING THE UNWARY

Mr. Knapp says - "In adding a link to his website, it was necessary to address some of  Mr. Debaun's [sic] links in order to defuse some of the less then [sic] compelling articles they refer to. More for the sake of the unwary then [sic] for the knowledgeable individual."

It is a source of amusement to me that a small cadre of young-earth creationists (who cling stubbornly to an archaic, Bronze Age creation story that has no scientific substantiation whatsoever and whose details have been rejected by every reputable scientific organization in the world) continue to pretend that they possess superior scientific knowledge regarding the processes that led to the diversification of life on earth.  At the same time, it is rather sad that someone like Mr. Knapp (who admits to having minimal formal training in the sciences) can be so easily duped into thinking that it is the vast majority of experienced scientists who are "unknowledgeable" with regard to the evidence.  The ease with which the creationist propagandists can con the "unwary" into swallowing their line of baloney serves as yet another reminder of the dismal state of science education in this country.  Unfortunately, the average creationist does not know enough about science to be aware that they are the "unwary" who are being flummoxed.

No doubt most of my links are not particularly "compelling" to Mr. Knapp.  In order to be compelling, they must be read by someone who understands the basics of the scientific method.

THE "CREATIONARY THEORY" - "SCIENCE" FOR THE CRITICAL THINKING IMPAIRED

Mr. Knapp says - "Evolutionists try to claim there is no scientific theory of creation. This is false. This  comes out of an apparent willful ignorance of creationist publishing. Check out  http://www.trueorigins.org/creatheory.asp. for a side by side discussion of the two theories as well as sources of  technical journals and books which discuss various aspects of the creationary model."

When someone engages in (what they claim to be) an in-depth scientific discussion about a multifaceted subject (such as the origin of species) and then restricts their definition of science to one that is available from a common dictionary, odds are they are trying to skew the meaning to suit their agenda.  This is precisely the form of subterfuge that Timothy Wallace employs in the article which Mr. Knapp has linked above.  Essential elements of the scientific method include falsifiability, methodological empiricism, universal applicability of basic principles, predictability, tentativeness, and assumptive naturalism - none of which are mentioned (nor would be expected to be mentioned) in the generalized definition provided by a dictionary.  A common dictionary definition of science does not adequately describe the essentials of the scientific method anymore than a dictionary definition of Christianity ("The Christian religion, founded on the life and teachings of Jesus.") properly elucidates the critical tenets and essential doctrines of that religion.      

The reason Mr. Wallace does not provide a more comprehensive and scientifically accurate description of science (See here.) is because, if he were to do so, it would become blatantly obvious that his so-called "creationary theory" is to science what rap is to classical music.  It simply doesn't fit the definition.  Let me remind Mr. Knapp once again that science is not permitted to invoke supernatural causes and effects no matter how loudly the creationists may protest about it. This inviolable rule does not apply exclusively to the study of evolution. It is applicable to all branches of science. And it is fundamental to the proper functioning of the scientific system of inquiry. The implication from Mr. Knapp's recommended website is that evolutionists are somehow unique in their insistence on naturalistic explanations. They are not. All legitimate scientists must play by these clearly defined rules. If Mr. Knapp thinks evolutionists are unique in their demand for naturalistic explanations, then I ask him to please identify any commonly recognized scientific theory, in any discipline, that utilizes anything other than natural causes and effects in formulating its theoretical explanations. (I have posed this question to Mr. Knapp a number of times, and he has steadfastly avoided acknowledging that I have asked it.  Whether he acknowledges it or not, his continued failure to produce an example leads to the inescapable conclusion that he cannot identify any such theory.  That being the case, it is incumbent upon him fess up to the fact that he is unaware of any precedence in science for incorporating supernatural explanations into legitimate scientific theories. While he's at it, he could also admit that, since there is no evidence that supernatural explanations have ever been permitted as part of established scientific theories, the miracle-laden "creationary theory" of Wallace does not qualify as legitimate science.)

The Bible-based "scientific" model presented at trueorigin.org relies heavily on supernatural intervention and miraculous explanations. This sad excuse for a scientific theory maintains that the purported supernaturally orchestrated creation and Flood events described in Genesis must be embraced as literal history, i.e., as hard scientific evidence. These purported miraculous occurrences form the very core of this abortive attempt to disguise creationism as legitimate science. But no matter how hard they try to camouflage their miracles in scientific jargon, their true motives remain abundantly clear.  Their purpose is to promote a religious viewpoint, not to advance a credible scientific theory.  The "technical journals" on the site to which Mr. Knapp refers are technical only in the sense that they use highfalutin scientific jargon in an attempt to impress the "unwary".  Any resemblance between their contents and genuine science is purely coincidental.

Since supernatural explanations can be used to explain anything, they, in reality, explain nothing. (If Mr. Knapp disagrees, then he should provide an example of a phenomenon that cannot be "explained" by someone’s claim of supernatural intervention.) To say that a supernatural entity caused something to happen is to effectively remove the subject from the realm of scientific investigation. If it invokes supernaturalism, it does not meet the requirements for falsifiability and it does not lead to reliable predictions.  If it’s not natural, it’s not science. What is presented on Mr. Knapp's recommended website is not a viable scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. It is an abortive attempt to rewrite the rules for doing science in order to weasel in the supernatural elements that are essential to creationist dogma. By presenting this bastardized approach to science, one can only conclude that the primary goal of these religious propagandists is to indoctrinate the lay public. Certainly no reputable scientist would ever endorse such a thing as representing real science. If it is Wallace's intention to bamboozle the general public with his preternatural model (which is most likely the case), then he will probably meet with some success, especially if Mr. Knapp is any indication. If he seriously thinks he is going to convert any knowledgeable, mainstream scientists with his miracle-mongering, he is suffering from delusions of grandeur.

The Internet is replete with shady websites touting quack remedies for every imaginable malady.  Trueorigins and Answers in Genesis (AIG), two of Mr. Knapp's favorites, represent two such examples.  Instead of hawking  snake oil, they peddle quack science which they promise will dispel the heartbreak of "antievolutionitis."  In fact, AIG has been listed as the most blatantly pseudoscientific site on the Internet by the Archaeology journal.  Talkorigins.org is listed as one of the best debunkers of such nonsense. (See here.)

THE CASE OF THE MISSING DOCUMENTATION

Mr. Knapp says - "More scientists both creationists and non-creationists are exposing the myth of evolution."

Mr. Knapp continues to harp on this claim that the proportion of scientists who oppose the theory of evolution is increasing.  Although I have asked him on more than one occasion to provide substantiation for this claim, he has thus far failed to do so. Until he does, I think I am justified in assuming that he is simply spouting creationist propaganda that has no basis in fact.  Creationists have been mouthing off about the impending demise of the theory of evolution for decades. So far, their predictions have been as worthless as those of a two-bit psychic- or any psychic for that matter.

Creationism, which gained increased popularity among fundamentalist Christian sects beginning in the 1970's, is largely an American phenomenon that springs from the preaching of self-taught "scientist", George McCready Price.  In its current form, it is an outgrowth of the teachings of "prophetess" Ellen White who promoted Price's brand of creationism as an integral part of the dogma of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  Mr. Knapp's previous protestations notwithstanding, when one penetrates the veneer of the creationist's self-proclaimed scientific objectivity, it is revealed that religious presuppositions almost invariably emerge as the root cause of their aversion to the concept of biological evolution. Indeed, the two main websites Mr. Knapp uses as his sources of enlightenment (trueorigins and AIG) are both overtly religious in their underlying structure. All the polls with which I am familiar indicate that, of all scientists in this country, the percentage who profess to be opponents of the theory of evolution has remained rather constant over the last several decades at around 5% or less.  Less than 0.15% of scientists who work in the relevant areas of the earth and life sciences believe in creationism. (See here.)  If Mr. Knapp has information that contradicts my findings, I wish he would share it with me.

MISUNDERSTOOD MOTIVES      

Mr. Knapp says - "The following are answers to Jack Debaun's [sic] new website [URL deleted by me] apparently for an insatiable need for the last word with me. If it's the last word he desires then the last word he shall have" 

It is not my desire for the last word that is the primary motivating factor behind my persistence in this dialogue.  In fact, I have provided Mr. Knapp ample opportunities to get in the last word regarding a number of questions that have arisen during the course of our dialogue. (See them summarized here.)  While I do not promise that I might not have further comments were he to answer any of them, at least I have given him the chance to clear up some of these matters (some of them unsubstantiated claims) which he has thus far ignored.  I have attempted to respond in some manner to all the specific questions Mr. Knapp has asked of me.  If I have missed any, I wish he would bring them to my attention.  As soon as he addresses those I have asked of him, I will work on answering them.

I am not persisting in this exchange with Mr. Knapp because I insist on having the final contribution to this debate.  I am continuing to pursue this effort because I consider it my obligation as a scientist to expose the pseudoscientific nonsense that continues to proliferate on Mr. Knapp's website. Why should I care?  I care because I am concerned about the deteriorating quality of science education in this country and the effect that the misinformation contained on websites such as Mr. Knapp's has in exacerbating that decline.  The Internet is rife with pseudoscientific websites masquerading as legitimate science. One person cannot adequately address all the malarkey that is being foisted on the public via this conduit of information overload.  I am focusing on Mr. Knapp's website because he has promoted it locally in the newspaper as a repository of reliable scientific information.  I intend to do what I can to demonstrate that Mr. Knapp was guilty of false advertising.

The United States now has one of the lowest science literacy rates in the western world.  A recent study by the (American) National Science Foundation revealed that 70% of Americans were ignorant of the fundamentals of the natural sciences and mathematics.  The results from this study showed that less than half knew electrons were smaller than atoms.  Less than half could define the essentials of DNA inheritance.  Only 22% could define a molecule. Only 33% understood the scientific process. (No wonder it is so easy to find those who are gullible enough to fall for Wallace's "creationary theory".)  Other studies present a similarly grim picture.  Of course, what would one expect from an educational system where 31% of math teachers and 20% of science teachers in grades 7-12 lack a major or minor in the subjects they are teaching?  See "Science Literacy" for more insight on the subject.  

Why should anybody be concerned about this mediocre science literacy rate and about the fact that the quality of science education is marginal at best?   (1.) Because 25% of all US professionals with doctoral degrees are now foreign born (45% for the computer sciences and 27% for the biological sciences) and the proportion is trending upwards.  In order to remain competitive in the global economy, it is mandatory that a viable scientific workforce be maintained so that we can compete successfully in this increasingly more scientifically and technologically oriented environment. Because of the decreased emphasis on quality science education in this country, fewer of our own students are encouraged to pursue careers in the scientific disciplines.  To retain our scientific prowess, it will be necessary to rely more heavily in the future on a foreign supply of science professionals.  Unfortunately for us, as economic conditions improve abroad, there will be less incentive for these foreign scientists to leave their countries. If we do not reverse the current downward trend in the quality of science education in this country, we will likely face serious problems maintaining an adequate supply of scientists in the future.  (2.) Science illiteracy renders people gullible. That's why there is such of proliferation of websites maintained by devotees of such pseudoscientific codswallop as UFO's, Bigfoot, ESP, astrology, and Mr. Knapp's favorite brand of junk science, creationism.  While it is not a crime to be gullible, it seems a rather a waste of human brain power to wallow in nonsense when there are so many aspects of reality that command our urgent attention.  (3.) People who are scientifically illiterate are ill-prepared to make informed decisions regarding matters of scientific import.  Sadly, this includes a good number of our elected officials. More to the point, if people do not understand the basics of the scientific method (e.g., that it is restricted to the practice of  methodological naturalism), they are unable to understand what is wrong with teaching creationism in science class in the public schools.  Instead of advocating paying teachers competitive salaries and demanding that they be properly tested to ensure their competency so that bright young students will be encouraged to pursue careers in science and math, the creationists clamber for equal time for their anti-science agenda. Instead of working to ameliorate the situation, the creationists are intent on corrupting an already marginal curriculum with their ill-conceived supernatural dogma. Introduction of creationist teachings, which conflict in almost every respect with those of conventional science, would only serve to further confuse students caught in an already foundering system of instruction.  When people do not have an adequate understanding of the sciences, they are often predisposed to make recommendations that would further retard science education rather than improve upon it.  Retarding the educational process is the last thing we need if we are to continue to prosper in this increasingly more technologically-driven society.

That is not to say that discussion of the biblical creation story should be banned from public schools altogether.  Indeed, creation stories from various religious belief systems could be taught in a proper venue such as a history of religion class. This type of instruction, where students were exposed to the religious literature of various cultures, has a lot to recommend of it.  The point scientists are trying to emphasize is that creationism should not be taught as a viable theory in the science class anymore than astrology, alchemy, and geocentrism should be taught within that framework. Scientists are not generally opposed to the teaching of religious creation stories, but they are opposed to teaching them incorrectly as science.

Regrettably, a good science education is not always sufficient to shield an individual from transcendental temptation. Even some otherwise gifted scientists with Ph.D.s occasionally become creation addicts.  In such individuals, religious beliefs usually stand as an impediment to any attempt to dissuade them from their faith-based commitments  - even in the face of  voluminous evidence to the contrary.  Nonetheless, the fact remains that these creation-touting scientists represent only a very small fraction of the scientific community at large.  Fortunately for the sake of maintaining general scientific integrity, most scientists, the majority of whom hold religious beliefs of one sort or another, do not allow those beliefs to blind them to the reality of evolution.

Do I care what Mr. Knapp believes about the origin and diversification of life on earth?  No, I don't care.  As far as I am concerned, he has the right to believe whatever he wants.  He also has a right to express his views on the Internet, ill-conceived though they may be.  However, I also have the right to call attention to what I consider to be serious errors in the material that he offers up for public consumption on the Internet or elsewhere. As a scientist who is concerned about the future of science education in this country, I consider it not only my right, but my duty to expose fraudulent science where I see it.

MR. KNAPP SHARPENS HIS RELIGIOUS AXE

Mr. Knapp says - "I contend that those who do so [apply evolutionary ideas to the scriptures] are rejecting the authority of scriptures and putting the opinions of man above His word."

In previous discussions, Mr. Knapp has disputed my contention that the creationists almost always have a "religious axe to grind."  Based on a number of Mr. Knapp's statements, such as the one above, there is little doubt that religion is the prime motivating factor in his opposition to evolution.  I wonder if he can provide substantiation for his claim that religious beliefs do not play a central role in the thinking of most of those who accept young-earth creationism and the reject the theory of evolution?

Mr. Knapp says - "It is my belief, from the evidence from science, that there is no excuse for not believing in a creator/God. Specifically the God of the Bible.

The many Christians who are evolutionists are in agreement with Mr. Knapp here.  I have provided a number of references to such Christians in previous communications with him.  It is just that they have a somewhat different view of the "God of the Bible" than he does.

Mr. Knapp says - "It's important to note that evolution cannot be proven either. No one was there in the past to directly observe what was happening."

Of course evolution cannot be proven in the absolute sense.  Nothing in science is claimed to be proven with absolute certainty.  In contrast to religion, everything in science is subject to revision or rejection if new evidence so dictates.  No one has ever seen an electron directly, but that does not mean that there is any serious doubt among mainstream scientists about whether or not they are flitting about in atoms.  The formation of all the world's great volcanoes was also not directly observed.  However, from studying geological deposits and the processes that are involved in volcano building today, scientists have a logical theory of how they came into existence in the past.  The same principles apply to the theory of evolution.  Scientists can study evidence from past occurrences and derive meaningful theories about them just as jurors can study evidence from past crimes and draw meaningful conclusions about who committed them and how they were committed.  Just because an event happens in the past does not mean that it cannot leave valuable evidence behind that can be used to correctly describe it. Just because the historical evidence does not support creationism is no reason to deny its applicability to scientific inquiry.  Furthermore, much of the evidence for evolution comes from studying such things as the hierarchical nesting of organisms, biogeographical distributions, fossils, anatomical relationships, and molecular genetic relationships that can be directly observed in the here and now.

Mr. Knapp - "I believe if we start our thinking from the presupposition that the Bible is the word of God, historically & scientifically reliable, we can examine the evidence and come to the correct conclusion."

Legitimate scientists do not formulate their theories on the literal interpretation of miraculous stories from any book, no matter what is claimed to be its origin.  Science deals exclusively with natural causes and effects.  If Mr. Knapp wants to start his thinking from the presupposition of the literal interpretation of preternatural events, that is fine.  However, if he does so and continues along those lines, he will finish with a religious/metaphysical conclusion, not a scientific one.

Mr. Knapp says - "When an evolutionist claims a certain fossil is an ancestor of another creature, he cannot empirically prove such a claim. It's out side of the realm of empirical science. Such is the situation with creation or evolution. The question of origins is outside the realm of observational science."

The question of biological origins is no more outside the realm of observational science than are questions pertaining to other "historical" sciences such as geology, anthropology, and cosmology.  Again, science does not categorically prove anything.  It critically examines the evidence from natural sources and formulates theories (in keeping with the tenets of the scientific method) to explain natural phenomena.  Science does not claim to have the ultimate explanation.  It strives only to develop the best explanation that fits all the evidence. For sources of empirical evidence which establishes ancestral relationships from the fossil record, see the pro-evolution links on this site.

Mr. Knapp says - "Never the less [sic], we can build models which can be tested to see which one best makes sense of the observable evidence we see today."

Indeed we can.  Unfortunately for Mr. Knapp, the "creationary" model has flunked the test as far as every legitimate scientific institution in the world is concerned.  Creationists have not developed a scientific model.  They have created a pseudoscientific muddle.

Although Mr. Knapp's section entitled "Bias/Presuppositions/Naturalism" is actually part of his original home page, I think it is important to address some of the issues he raises in this section because they have occurred frequently as themes in his other communications with me.

GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION

Mr. Knapp says - "This may come as a surprise to some, but evolution is a religion. (Religion)- A cause, principle, or belief held to with faith and ardor." 

Here we go again with the common dictionary definitions.  Mr. Knapp must have had to dig pretty far down the list of definitions to come up with one that has as generalized a meaning as the one he gives.  According to his definition, such things as stock market investing, poker playing, and nude sunbathing could all presumably qualify as religions.  The first definition of religion given by my dictionary (The American Heritage, third edition) reads as follows:  "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe."  I think most people understand religion to involve a belief in supernatural entities and/or spiritual influences of some sort or another.  It should come as no surprise to Mr. Knapp (who has repeatedly accused Darwinism of being thoroughly materialistic) that evolution does not fit the standard definition.  Attempting to characterize an acceptance of evolution as a religious belief  is an old trick that creationists have tried in the courts of law.  For obvious reasons, they have lost this frivolous argument in every instance where they have used it.

QUOTE MINING FOR FUN AND PROFIT

Mr. Knapp says -"Consider the following Quotes by evolutionists themselves."

Creationists are masters at misusing quotations to do their work for them.  Since they lack any substantive scientific evidence to support their own "theories", they spend most of their time taking pot shots at the theory of evolution.  One technique they have developed to a fine art to assist them in this effort is quote mining. This technique involves lifting quotations (often out of context and/or out of date) from various scientists and then insinuating that, because such and such a scientist once said or wrote something, it must reflect (1.) the scientist's complete and comprehensive understanding of a subject, (2.) some secret that scientists are trying to conceal from the public, or (3.) the collective thinking of the entire scientific community at large. Creationist publications make generous use of quotations for their rhetorical value.  A look at mainstream science journals will reveal that quotations are use sparingly, if at all, to communicate legitimate scientific information.

The problem with selective quotations is that they can be used to give the wrong impression of what an individual may actually think about a subject.  For instance, I could quote Matt. 10:34-37 to portray Jesus as a sword-wielding militant who was intent on destroying the family unit. I think Mr. Knapp will agree that this quote would not accurately describe Jesus' true character as he understands it. But if this were all one read about him, they might agree with my unflattering characterization.  Such are the tricks one can play in the quote mining game.

As a factual example of this game, creationist, Timothy Wallace, in "Thermodynamics vs. Evolutionism"  includes the following quotation from the distinguished scientist, Isaac Asimov:

“Another way of stating the second law then is: ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’ Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us.  We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily.  Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty.  How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order: how easy to let them deteriorate.  In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself -- and that is what the second law is all about.”
[Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p. 6]

Wallace includes this quotation to give the false impression that Asimov interprets the second law of thermodynamics to mean that everything must tend inexorably to disorder and destruction.  But does this quotation really convey the totality of how Asimov interprets the second law.  Let Asimov set the record straight in his own words.

"To lift the argument a notch above the kindergarten level, the second law of thermodynamics applies to a "closed system"—that is, to a system that does not gain energy from without, or lose energy to the outside. The only truly closed system we know of is the universe as a whole. Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking subsystem. The overall change then is a complexity loss in line with the dictates of the second law.  Evolution can proceed and build up the complex from the simple, thus moving uphill, without violating the second law, as long as another interlocking part of the system—the sun, which delivers energy to the earth continually—moves downhill (as it , does) at a much faster rate than evolution moves uphill. Unfortunately, the second law is a subtle concept that most people are not accustomed to dealing with, and it is not easy to see the fallacy in the creationist distortion." From - Misquoted Scientists Respond, Creation/Evolution, Fall 1981, page 34.

So here again we see how misleading the game of quote mining can be. While the first quotation could be misconstrued to give the impression evolution could not occur, the second one makes it clear that this is not what Asimov actually intended.  I have previously addressed Mr. Knapp's quotes from Richard Lewontin (here), Michael Ruse (here), and Scott Todd (here).  The quotations from Loren Eisely (1957) and Harrison Mathews (1971) are so far out of date that they do not merit any serious comment.  For more on the creationist penchant for relying on quotes instead of evidence see Quotations and Misquotations.

POT, KETTLE, BLACK

Mr. Knapp says - "So we see that the most vocal proponents of evolution subscribe to a materialistic bias which fundamentally effects their objectivity and interpretation of  the facts. This is sometimes referred to as naturalism. This dictates that only a materialistic cause for every thing can be invoked to explain the observable phenomena. This line of thinking reveals a commitment to materialistic philosophy.-Especially when considering origins science. I reject this approach to science because it's not an honest search for the truth."

In his discussions with me, Mr. Knapp has repeatedly lambasted evolutionists for practicing good science, i.e., for adhering to the principle of methodological naturalism.  And I have repeatedly attempted to educate him on the necessity of maintaining such an approach.  (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for my commentary on this issue.)  From his failure to get the message, I can only conclude that Mr. Knapp is hopelessly uneducable on this subject.  In an earlier communication, Mr. Knapp remarked, "I myself have no expertise in any field of science."  From his recalcitrance on this matter, it appears he wants to keep it that way.

When Mr. Knapp rejects "this approach" (i.e., methodological naturalism), he is rejecting one of the most salient and irrevocable elements of the scientific method.  Without "this approach", science would degenerate into a endless squabble over competing miracle claims. Not to downplay the significance of his pronouncement, but as far as I can tell, Mr. Knapp's rejection notice has not had any serious impact on the way real scientists are doing business. Mr. Knapp can reject whatever he wants, but he should understand that his opinions regarding the proper conduct of science are irrelevant considering they are coming from an admitted science neophyte.

IT'S STILL AU NATUREL

Mr. Knapp says - "Thankfully more scientists are challenging this bogus line of thinking and we have seen some changes occurring.  The Ohio State Board of Education enacted new science standards that de-emphasized this materialist philosophy." 

"Consider the change in definition of scientific knowledge:"

"Recognize that scientific knowledge is limited to natural explanations for natural phenomena based on evidence from our senses or technological extensions"

                                                                                 "changed    to"

"Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation, based on observation, hypothesis-testing, measurement, experimentation , theory-building, which leads to more adequate explanation of natural phenomena."

"Notice that science is a systematic process of studying natural phenomena and it does not restrict researchers by insisting on only naturalistic causes for the origin of natural phenomena.. This is a more correct and historical approach to science."

I wouldn't gloat too much about this revision if I were Mr. Knapp.  In the first place, state boards of education are often made up of individuals who don't have a clue about what constitutes legitimate science.  Many of them are under political pressure to cow tow to the demands of their religious constituency - as was the case in Ohio.  In the second place, state boards of education do not define the rules that practicing scientists use to conduct their work. Education boards can define science any way they want, but scientists do not consult those definitions to determine how to do their jobs.  In essence, science is what real scientists do, regardless how it is defined by any boards of education.   In the third place, the revised definition still restricts science to the study of natural phenomena.  If a phenomenon is caused or influenced by supernatural forces, it is not a natural phenomenon. It is then, by definition, a supernatural phenomena. Therefore, even with this new definition, science is still constrained to working exclusively with natural causes and effects which manifest themselves in natural phenomena. I hope Mr. Knapp didn't break out his best champagne in response to this "more correct and historical approach to science"

Updated: 11/10/03