Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Fascinating. Perhaps "Intrinsic Design," a much better term for it, could be taught, not in science class, not in philosophy class, but where it naturally belongs -- gym class.

And as a model instructor, may I suggest Phil Jackson?

Rick Heller

I've used the term "intelligent evolution." The idea that evolution may be guided by an intelligence may be what some ID'ers believe.

However, I don't think they've been crystal clear about it, and the confusion between ID and creationism is not all due to opponents. The Discovery Institute seems to want a big tent which allows young earth creationists in. As far as why they may do this, it may be that the money and numbers are on among the young earth literalists, and if the ID'ers clearly cut themselves off from them, they would lose their base.

Rick Heller

Oh, and the connection with athletics reminds me of the concept of flow pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I think there's a connection between flow and the interaction between mind and brain. Benjamin Libet talks about "free won't" where the mind vetoes options the brain presents to consciousness. Flow may occur when an athlete has so well trained his body and brain that it need not wastefully present options that need to be vetoed, and instead present alternatives that can be effortlessly accepted.


Rick -- I have to backtrack and agree with you that not all the Creationism/ID confusion comes from opponents. I'm going to add something to that effect. It's an unfortunate alliance on the IDers' part if they expect to be accepted in the science camp. You may be right about the fundie funding.

It's a pity, too, because the idea that there's an intrinsic intelligence operating at the core of nature is very different from the idea of a fatherly finger reaching down from heaven. And the possibility that the process of evolution is itself infused with an intelligence is not irreconcilable with science. That's what I was trying to say, don't think I expressed myself too well.


To continue that, the IDers associate with young-earth creationists because they share the political and cultural agenda of putting paid to philosophical materialism. But that's not going to get them anywhere with scientists. Basically, they've got to do more definitive science to refute the charge that they're only doing religion and politics in the guise of science.

lmeade, LOL! THAT's the solution!

Mark Daniels

An intriguing post.

Chris Hallquist


Let me ask you one thing: do you think this is science solid enough to be taught in schools?


In gym class, Chris!

Seriously -- if I were teaching science class, I would explain that there's a lot we don't know, and the scientific method is our most trustworthy way of exploring and verifying the "what" and "how" of it. But it's not necessary to leave out the statement that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." It would be worth getting kids to think about what might be verifiable and what might not, what is the difference between scientific knowledge, speculation, and belief. Why doesn't this belong in science class? How can you understand what the scientific method is if you can't compare it to other ways of thinking?


This doesn't belong in science class because the theory still has no solid evidence backing it. Therefore it is merely a hypothesis, not even yet a theory.

It would be like trying to say in a Psych 101 class that telepathy and pyrokinesis are as valid and proven as depression and schizophrenia.


It most decidely does belong in a science class, Amba, and in fact most science textbooks' introduction includes an attempt at this.

However, almost without fail, these attempts are little more than an artificial parsing of science and religion into mutually exclusive domains of knowledge.

Science deals with observable facts, and religion with revealed truth, they would say.

If this were true, however, we wouldn't be having these fights in the first place!

We sorely do need a way to navigate through these areas of intersection and conflict. However, I am pessimistic (look amba pessimistic!) about being able to do this within the confines of public school.

Lincoln said that if an honestly mistaken man hears the truth, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.

With the public school, there is a very vocal contigent which doesn't care about "truth." And this very vocal contigent has influenced public opinion to a substantial degree. Now what is the cold hard truth? Science does pose a serious challenge to religion, so much so that many have chosen to significantly alter their religious beliefs because of it.

Furthermore, it renders exceedingly unlikely the traditional account found in Genesis. But you can't say that.

One might turn to the science faculty of the university to eludicate the relationship. Sadly, most scientists are poor philosophers and, for fear of ostracism, are unlikely to tell the cold hard truth. Namely, materialism is not nearly as well-established as one might think.

This leaves the task to the philosophers of science.

The real problem is that science and religion do intersect, do compete, but both sides have an interest in pretending as if they didn't.

This problem will only be resolved once humans "grow up" a little: spiritually, philosophically, and scientifically.

In the mean time, I think it's best to tell kids that some people feel that evolution and religion are compatible and others don't. We're teaching evolution because evolution is what the vast majority of scientists believe. You may have heard of intelligent design. We're not teaching it because it is not sufficently well-established to merit its inclusion.


Note: I think Sleipner is referring to intelligent design being taught. I was referring to the relationship between science and religion.

Chris Hallquist

"Namely, materialism is not nearly as well-established as one might think."

What is even meant by this? Words like "materialism" and "naturalism" are nice short hand, but do they work as meaningful philosophical concepts?

In the middle ages, there was the debate about whether there were one or two types of substance: just mental, just physical, or mental and physical. Now, ask a physisist what types of substance there are, and you'll hear about gluons, lepons, and quarks (if I remember what I learned in a very brief part of my high school physics course correctly). These, you might say, are all physical, but what does it mean for mental substance to be different from a quark in a way a quark is not different from a gluon? If it's a matter of what we can study, does that mean the mind might become a physical entity if we gain a better scientific understanding of it some day?


Yes, it is a complex question Chris. The more accurate way of phrasing it, IMHO, is that some scientists tend to act as if we've discovered all the "matter" that we'll ever discover. Of course, that is blatantly false as witness astrophysicists' ignorance about dark matter and dark energy.

If you go with an esoteric Hindu description of levels of being you would have (suppressing the Sanskrit): physical matter, emotional matter, mental matter, memoric matter, buddhic "substance", a level I forget, and finally that level which corresponds to undiffentiated divinity: brahman.

Now there are sublevels within these levels. You could view it as progressively "finer" types of material. So according to this model, one day you could measure the mind. The way to think of the whole picture is to imagine that each human has each of these levels and that "will" derives from the highest level brahman. And the person is fundamentally that highest level. Everything else is like clothing. Meaning a person would be "wearing" their body, their emotions, their minds, their memories, etc. But they themselves would be the "will." So if this model has any truth to it, the current understanding of spirit and matter, mind and body, is embarassingly simplistic. It's that damned western religion which can only imagine two substances screwing us up again:)

In this model, the finer types of scientific entities: photons, neutrinos, etc. might be considered on the border between physical and emotional matter.


Perhps someoone could tell us what Albert Einstein meant when he said


How cool is that? I'll not argue w/him. You really ARE a Wavemaker :).

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