Intelligent Design

An oft debated political and social topic these days revolves around the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools. Politically it is posed as a ‘compromise’ between the two cultural poles: Yes, evolution happened…Yes, God did it. But should it be taught in publics on par with the scientific understanding of evolution?

One angry dissenter:

I don’t care about what individuals believe, but when people twist their religion into something that not only abuses itself but also presents itself as scientific fact, I find that dangerous. Creationism should never pose as fact. Intelligent design, by definition, cannot pose as fact…

Pushing “Intelligent Design” into science classrooms degrades and defeats the purpose of science. And modern day science is based on cause-and-effect reasoning. Take away reason, and there is no science.

It is hard to disagree. To me it is just another link in the chain of culture battles, where different ‘sides’ debate issues that have little major practical importance.

Its strange how political issues gain prominence… not because of how it will affect the lives of citizens, but because many people are yelling loudly about it. Often Usually, people scream the loudest about issues that for all practical purposes are irrelevant in the public sphere. It’s all symbolism, and its sad.

What say you?

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3 comments

  1. Oh paul, you’ve hit my hottest of hot topics and I love you for it.

    ID is the most brilliant ploy to conceal creationism and get it into classrooms that could have ever been come up with. Brilliantly executed. But, it still doesn’t belong in the class room and is pseudoscience at its slimiest.

    However, I think this issue should have political prominence (although I’ll be the first to admit I’m one-sided on this issue) ID is just veiled creationism, which is veiled christianity, which should not be taught in public schools, especially science class rooms. No religion in public schools seems like a worth while political fight right? People are yelling loudly about it because it exemplifies how this country deals with faith and science – its more than just which lesson plan gets dished out.

    In 2003 the state of Oklahoma declared “Evolution is a theory. It is not fact.” The theory of gravity, in that state’s mind, must also be just a theory and not fact. I wonder if there’s no gravity in Oklahoma? My point? There are still long cold skinny fingers someplace in politics that want faith mixed in with public policy, however they can spin it.

    As far as responding directly to your post:

    “Usually, people scream the loudest about issues that for all practical purposes are irrelevant in the public sphere. It’s all symbolism, and its sad.”

    I’ll agree people make a ruckus over stupid things. I will also agree that focusing that energy (as I’ll choose to call it, as opposed to “screaming”) on something like the economy or something more “practical” in your mind, wouldn’t be so bad.

    I can see where you think that ID/evolution is simply symbolic, and that it doesn’t have a practical affect on anyone. But again, its about who is able to assert influence over policy that would allow religiously backed agenda into a public school science classroom. Somewhere there is some politician who is not separating their church and stat, and at the very least, doesn’t understand what science IS – both of which are worth screaming about.

    I am a strong evolution supporter in this debate, and I guess you would consider me as one of the people “scream[ing] the loudest”” on this issue. I am sorry to hear you think my screaming is “sad” over this “symbolism”. However, thats how we roll in America right? I’d just rather not, symbolically, let other country’s know America rolls with pseudoscience class rooms.

  2. I obviously thought of you, Al, as I was writing this thing up. You are my resident science advocate…a title I’m hoping you accept for the rest of your life.

    I’ll admit that I muddled this whole post by throwing in two different lines of thought (1) The actual debate on intelligent design in schools, and (2) The importance of the issue to the public. It was sloppiness on my part for mixing up the two issues haphazardly, and it made it difficult to respond clearly to the post.

    To be honest, I was intending only to discuss the actual issue of ID. But I rambled off topic with the “screaming” criticism.

    Rereading your comments, and then mine, I now find myself essentially agreeing with all of your thoughts. Obviously, I am with you on the issue of ID in public schools. Absurd. As you clearly explain, the attempted blend of religious thought with the hard science creates distortion. It makes no sense. You are right.

    Now, I certainly don’t consider your ‘screaming’ as misguided. On any particular issue, an individual may have personal passions that lead them to become strong advocates on behalf of their pet cause or concern. That is completely natural and important.

    The point that I did a poor job of making, was on a broader scale….a critique of the priorities of the country as a whole. In other words, its not wrong for a single individual to scream about an issue that they find personally relevant. But, I’m stunned by the what issues seem to dominate the American collective; issues that are less important to the whole than others.

    As usual, I think of state issues. Last session, for example, the state passed legislation that mandated a ‘moment of silence’ every day in each public classroom. Horrendous legislation. An unnecessary state oversight that (like the ID issue) attempts to subtly add a touch of religion back into the public sphere. I have strong feelings on the issue. But, what is even more absurd is that we are wasting public time, money, and debate space on the topic. Especially when our state financial situation is crumbling. There are 100 more important things that require our focus.

    Anyway, I’m with you. ID is preposterous. Also, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you individually screaming about it. I scream about all kinds of things myself.

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