I'm reading the legal brief from the Pennsylvania court case today regarding the teaching of intelligent design in science class. For those living under a rock, a school board in Dover, PA tried to force science teachers to promote intelligent design as a legitimate scientific theory, as well as attack evolution as a controversial, unsupported opinion (teachers were told to refer to evolution as "Darwin's view"). Neither, of course, are actually true.
The judge ruled today in favor of families who were unhappy with the school board's decision. As a member of the scientific community, I feel relieved that someone in a position of authority, i.e. the judge, finally understands that undermining science in science class is a bad idea. Evolution is not "just a theory," as the school board tried to portray. Actually, it's not really a fact either, because it's much bigger than that. It's a whole bunch of facts, collected together and assembled in a way that makes sense. Kids shouldn't be told otherwise, regardless of how some religious people feel about it.
As a member of the Christian community, though, I feel saddened that some Christians feel so threatened by science that they would resort to any means necessary to destroy it. I'm struck by the dishonesty of the defendants of intelligent design in this case. As the legal brief points out, at every turn they distorted their position, in an attempt to make intelligent design look like a legitimate scientific theory. In reality, it's a religious belief in disguise.
The brief talks about how the intelligent design proponents, all Christian fundamentalists, twisted the facts and covered their tracks. The religious group that produced the book Of Pandas and People (the one that teachers would have been forced to suggest to their students) replaced all of the references to "creation" with "intelligent design" after teaching creationism was ruled unconstitutional promotion of religion in 1987. And yet they insist that this is not creationism.
Is that not deceitful?
Even the Discovery Institute (a creationist/intelligent design activist group) admitted that its agenda focused on replacing science with "theistic and Christian science." They knew that intelligent design is a religious belief, but tried to trick the country into thinking otherwise. And the most vocal leaders of Christian fundamentalism went along with them.
It's frustrating that these people are representing Christianity to the world. Because they claim that they have the fullness of truth, yet lie and scheme to promote a political agenda. And what could onlookers possible think, besides that Christians are a bunch of deceitful, power-hungry scoundrels? Probably that they're a bunch of stupid, deceitful, power-hungry scoundrels. Even the relief the verdict gives me can't overshadow the shame I feel.
It's equally frustrating that any of them would feel so threatened in the first place. Science is the study of reality. It looks for the truth about how the world works, and is not satisfied by the non-answer, "because that's just the way it is." Science helps the religious community to weed out its errors and let go of superstition. It does not, and can not, prove that God doesn't exist.
I know that this isn't the last of this story. For now, the science curriculum may be safe in Dover, but it's being attacked all over the United States. Christian fundamentalists, feeling threatened by science, are trying to undermine it, redefine it, or replace it all together. It's been that way for a long time. Longer than the United States has existed, really.
Hundreds of years ago, Christian fundamentalists attacked Copernicus for teaching that the Earth revolved around the sun, rather than the other way around. They insisted that his teaching was heretical and used Bible verses (Psalm 93:1, Joshua 10:12-14) to justify their assault. Galileo had to deal with the same thing, and was treated like a criminal for teaching the truth. Scientists have been persecuted for centuries for making discoveries that challenge religious beliefs about the natural world.
What was happening then is happening now, except that the attack strategies are different, more savvy. In the end, though, I think the result from this fight will be the same as those from years past. Scientists will keep discovering and Christian fundamentalists will keep fighting them. And after a few centuries the attacks will subside and Biblical interpretations will adapt. In the end, science will give us an even better understanding of the world, and Christians will come to appreciate it, at least until they find something new to rage about.
As they say, same you-know-what, different day. I just wish the Dover school board (and all of the others who rage against science) would wise up and realize that.
Drina-diva, first off, Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. This'll be Maria's first Christmas--ya gotta get us some pix!
On to the topic--you're right that "intelligent design" isn't real science. I accept evolution as fact; I have faith that the LORD had His good reasons for leaving the origin of the universe and the life it contains to unguided natural processes. Perhaps, in the next life, I can learn those reasons--I suspect they bear some resemblance to Mr.
Roddenberry's Prime Directive.
Some people who oppose evolution fear that accepting Darwinian biology ineluctably leads to SOCIAL Darwinism--the belief that the "losers" of society are "unfit" and should be allowed to perish, and/or that those who are strong enough have the right to dominate others forcibly. (To my knowledge, Darwin never endorsed that)
William Jennings Bryan, a sincere Christian who believed the government should not leave the poor behind, became convinced that evolution could not be disconnected from Social Darwinism, which is why he turned against evolution, although he had no quarrel with the theory when he first encountered it. That's why he ended up defending Tennessee's anti-evolution law in the Scopes Trial of 1925. I read about that in Garry Wills's 1990(?) book UNDER GOD: RELIGION AND AMERICAN POLITICS, which I recommend.
Ironically, many modern right-wing "Christians" who oppose evolution accept Social Darwinism, as shown by their hatred of the welfare state and their fawning near-idolatry of their obscenely wealthy leaders (Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, barf--a fawning that reaches full idolatry in their reverence for the Chimperor--megabarf! ) Also, their implicit, even explicit at times, belief that the USA is God's chosen nation, that it's our right and duty to rule the world, and that all those inconvenient brown people sitting on "our" petroleum should be converted to their (phony-as-hell Pharisaic) Christianity or exterminated. In truth, they worship the filthy, blood-smeared idols of earthly power and wealth. One would think these folks had never read the account of the Last Judgement in Matthew 25:31-46. One thing I like about that passage is that Jesus, as judge, does not say ONE WORD about whether or not you believed in Him or His Father in Heaven, or about what you and other consenting adults did with your genitals. No, His concern is "What did you do to look out for your less fortunate fellow humans?"
As for the "Christian" leaders I mentioned above, their toxic doctrines oughta make this guy REAL happy! Actually, I wonder if some of them KNOW they aren't really serving Jesus and are just out for power and wealth. I hear that Falwell is beholden to cult leader Sun Myung Moon for bailing out Falwell's little empire before it could founder. Worse than that, did you know Neil Bush, the Chimperor's brother, has been touring around with Moon lately? Moon owns the Washington Times, one of the principal right-wing papers in the USA. Much of the right wing is funded partly by Moon, and/or is connected to him in other ways. I wonder if our corporate-fascist masters aren't planning to wait until Moon dies--I think he's in his 80s--and then use his cult to infiltrate the right-wing churches (Moon claims to be the successor to Jesus--AS IF!) and convert them to Moonie churches. Moon's cult has developed proven techniques for leaching the independence out of people's minds and making docile drones out of them, which is just the sort of thing the fascists would like to use on the rest of us.
Jesus warned us about false messiahs and false teachers. May the LORD forgive them, but give us wisdom to see through them.
Sorry to get off on a rant.
Your nodding acquaintance , Kid Charlemagne
Kid Charlemagne on
dh, I know it's not easy for those not heavily involved in scientific research to recognize, but a concept is not scientific just because a scientist believed in it. If it were, the concept that Elvis is still alive would be a scientific one, because there are several 'scientists' that believe it.
In order for a theory to be accepted, it has to have massive amounts of supporting data. To say that it has to be thoroughly researched is an understatement. There are thousands upon thousands of studies, papers, and data sets supporting evolution. And consider how difficult it is to publish a single paper in a peer-reviewed journal.
When submitting a manuscript, established scientists in the same field meticulously pick apart every little detail of the method, data, and conclusions, and the vast majority of the time papers are flat out rejected (they are rarely ever accepted as is). They always have to supplemented, revised, and sometimes scrapped all together. When a paper I co-authored got rejected by reviewers last year, I didn't pretend I was being discriminated against like the ID supporters now do. The lab went back to the drawing board, added more data, and revised the paper. We couldn't just state what we believed; we had to demonstrate it with a series of studies. And that was just a single paper supporting a wee little hypothesis, not a grand theory.
Intelligent Design doesn't have any such support. It may have won over the hearts and minds of a tiny handful of religious scientists, but this does not make it scientific. Four or five papers (the methods and conclusions of which are quite dubious) does not make ID an acceptable scientific theory either, despite what the Discovery Institute has to say. ID belongs in a philosophy or theology class; not science class.
You also cautioned me to distinguish between creationism and intelligent design. I do; creationism is more honest; its supporters aren't trying to trick anyone into believing it's something that it's not. Intelligent design is a trojan horse; it's supporters have a clear religious agenda, but try to convince everyone it's secular science. The Discovery Institute, by the way, is a religious lobbying group that promotes both creationism and it's cousin, intelligent design. A DI publication asserted that its mission was to replace science with "Christian science."
For the record, I do not distinguish everyone who believes that God created the world as "Christian fundamentalists." I, myself, believe that God created the world, but am not a Christian fundamentalist. It just so happens, though, that those who deceitfully push ID in the science classroom are, in fact, Christian fundamentalists.
[To say it is unsupported is your opinion.]
dh, you have placed personal beliefs above data, evidence, research, and critical analysis. And in the context of religion, faith, theology, philosophy, etc. that is perfectly acceptable, but in science it's not. How can I have a reasoned discussion with someone who believes that 2+2=5, and claims that it's no more than mere opinion that it equals 4? For this reason, I can't have a reasoned discussion with you, when you believe that ID has factual support in research, when in fact it does not. That's not my opinion, nor is it anyone else's. It's reality. And no amount of pontificating from the Discovery Institute can change that.
[Many groups of scientists can very what is considered support and what isn't.]
Again, I don't think you have a solid understanding of how the scientific community operates.
[I feel you were originally scientific in your research and you underestimated yourself.]
I'm not sure what you mean by "scientific" here, because my paper was most certainly a scientific one, even though it needed to include additional data and some revision before it was published. But if you mean that the reviewers of my manuscript erred when they made note of possible confounds in the experiments, how would you know that? Because you reviewed the research, or because you have faith in me? I think that statement, though made in jest, illustrates why you don't understand the scientific process.
As for my use of the word fundamentalist, it was entirely appropriate. If you are offended by it, I apologize. But I am equally offended by the dishonest efforts of Christian fundamentalists to change the nature of science to incorporate their own sects' dogma.
[I have never said your view of Genesis determines one to be a Christian or not]
And neither have I. This has nothing to do with one's personal view of Genesis, and it is wrong for you to distort the conversation this way. I have always supported the belief that the Earth is God's creation, and have always believed that such faith is a wonderful thing. And yet in your last post, you have made me out to be an enemy of faith, which is completely in line with the antics of your fundamentalist brethren.
But this discussion is not about the validity of faith. It never has been, though in your last post you pretend that it is. This discussion is about the place of Intelligent Design Theory in science, not faith. More specifically, it's about the deceitful effort of religious fundamentalists to infuse science with religion. And it's wrong.
dh, each time my words are twisted and distorted, I learn to value your input into this conversation less. If you're unable to comprehend my statements, I'm willing to go back and write more plainly. But I will not discuss this with you further so long as you continue to misrepresent my arguments.
Furthermore, the material you've presented me with has convinced me more firmly that those who promote ID as a scientific theory do so for exclusively religious reasons; not scientific ones. Your reference to Genesis, citations by religious groups (e.g. the Discovery Institute, which aims to replace science with "theistic and Christian science" according to their own publications), and lack of understanding of the scientific process only confirms this.
You're a very religious person with a strong belief that God created the Earth, which is wonderful. But your motives in promoting ID are religious in nature; I can tell by the arguments you make that you're not a scientist, and you're not involved in research. You only know as much as the Discovery Institute tells you. You support ID Theory because you have faith in in, not because it has any scientific merit. And though you've adopted the talking points, you haven't offered anything substantial to support them.
Remember, we're not talking about the validity of scripture or Christianity here. I think sometimes you forget this, because you frame the discussion as would a theologian, not a scientist. And for this reason, I don't think this conversation is of any value to either of us.