30 October 2005

Teaching 'Intelligent Design' as Science is a Cunning Design

The American Council of Civil Liberties (ACLU) (http://www.aclu.org/) of Pennyslvania, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Pepper Hamilton LLP [who- or whatever that is] have filed a suit on behalf of 11 parents from the Dover area in Pennsylvania against a decision of the Dover Area School Board to require science teachers to present 'Intelligent Design' as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Intelligent Design is an important pillar and weapon of the tsumani of religious fundamentalism currently swamping America and even Australia [to mix 3 metaphors].

According to a definition put forward by the ACLU, Intelligent Design is "an assertion that an intelligent, supernatural entity has intervened in the history of life".

Basically, Intelligent Design represents a line of defence to which creationists can fall back, and from which they can mount a counterattack on the Theory of Evolution. It is a less extreme position than Creationism, and is thereby able to slip under the radar of our disbelief. Particularly for those who want to be Christians, who want to join their friends at Hillsong Christian rock concerts, who want to get with the Naughties and tune in, turn on and sing "Hallelujah!", but, being types who are honest with themselves, ("God is dead" and all that), find it hard to get over the Theory of Evolution. Enter Intelligent Design.

According to ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Witold Walczak, "Intelligent Design is a Trojan Horse for bringing religious Creationism back into public school science classes".

To sum up, Intelligent Design is Creationism repackaged to make it more palatable to a more sophisticated audience.

Back to the lawsuit. The lawsuit challenges a controversial decision made in October 2004 by the Dover Area School Board to require biology teachers to present "intelligent design" as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution.

The 11 parents say that "presenting 'intelligent design' in public school science classrooms violates their religious liberty by promoting particular religious beliefs to their children under the guise of science education".

"Teaching students about religion\'s role in world history and culture is proper, but disguising a particular religious belief as science is not," said ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Witold Walczak.

The lawsuit argues that such an assertion is inherently a religious argument that falls outside the realm of science.

At the time of the October vote, district science teachers opposed the policy and three school board members have since quit in protest of the decision.

The school district policy mandates that Dover public schools treat "intelligent design" as a bona fide scientific theory competing with the scientific theory of evolution in order to develop a balanced science curriculum.

At least one of the plaintiffs is a moderate Christian. "As a parent and a person of faith, I want to share my religious beliefs with my own children", said Dover resident Bryan Rehm, a high school physics teacher. "But as a teacher, it would be a great disservice and fallacy to teach students that a perfectly valid faith constitutes scientific knowledge".

Correctamundo. It's not science. It's religion. So why teach it as science?

At first it seemed to me that there is nothing wrong with putting forward the main competitor to the Theory of Evolution for examination by the students.

I think the key words may be "require" and "teach".

There are 70 million other fora in which to put forward Intelligent Design for the indoctrination (sorry, "education" is the word I believe we use) of children, including school Religion/Scripture/Religious Development/whatever classes, Confirmation courses, Sunday School, the dinner table, and so on. I would not object to my child's biology teacher presenting Intelligent Design as a competing theory at their own discretion.

The issue, I believe, is this: there is something sinister when the State requires the compulsory teaching as science of a religious belief. I have no personal knowledge of the State dictating religious or quasi-religious beliefs as science since Stalin, and that was a bizarre atavism not seen since the time of Galileo.

Why is this happening? It is happening because God is dead. Christianity needs to overcome this obstacle. It has done it many times before: always sneaking back through the back door. The Reformation is a case in point. One faction of Christianity even faced the death of God front, excised him from their theology altogether and remarketed themselves - we know this offshoot as Communism.

When I was but a wee lad of 5 years old, a rather naughty friend of 6 came up to me in the playground and said: "There is no Santa Claus. Santa Claus is really just your father. In the middle of the night he gets up, leaves presents, drinks the Scotch, eats the cake, hides the carrots, and goes back to bed."

"Shhh!" I hissed, looking around nervously. "Don't say that! Santa might hear you and you'll get nbo presents this Christamas."

But I knew in my heart of hearts that he was right, it simply made too much sense. There was no going back. Only a convoluted exercise in doublethink could save my belief. Santa Claus was dead.

In the same way, the Theory of Evolution was a rather severe blow to our belief. Most Christians deal with this by simply compartmentalising their mind: doublethink. But this is only a temporary solution. Christianity really needs to meet this challenge. It needs to hold itself together, and one faction has come to believe that the best way to achieve this is to appease both the Creationists and the Doublethinkers. Hence Intelligent Design.

The Intelligent Designers can achieve 2 things by having their idea taught as science: First, they can partially jam the transmission of Evolution simply by demanding some of its airtime (an idea cunningly sold as being "in the interests of impartiality"). And second, they can use the key idea of judo - turn the weight of your opponent back against him -, hijacking the considerable gravitas of science, as represented by your child's biology teacher, to advocate what is, in essence, Creationism.

Never mind that Science is subverted, compromised, bastardised along the way. In fact, so much the better. Christianity has never really liked Science anyway. Christianity is at bottom only interested in promoting, increasing, reproducing itself. This is why it is still alive afer 2000 years. It has stopped at nothing, including massacres and gruesome sadistic executions, to stay in poewr. Because at or near its very core is the selfish meme, a meme that has made Christianity one of the most successful memetic complexes, or viruses, ever.

Possibly the very existence of Chritianity is at stake - at least Christianity feels this way. Expect a long and very dirty struggle.

Patrick Henry

PS: Here is an interesting discussion about who will win the Intelligent Design (ID) argument. Not who is right, just who will win, go here http://www.techcentralstation.com/100705C.html, here http://www.techcentralstation.com/101105F.html, and here http://www.techcentralstation.com/101105C.html.


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