Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Intelligent Design Theory Revealed

With the Dover, PA case, Intelligent Design (ID) theory is in the news. A local school board tried to legislate (the operative word is "legislate") that science teachers read a disclaimer to students that evolution is not universally accepted and that ID theory offers an alternative scientific perspective. Eventually the school board was voted out. But what is the real issue at hand here? On the one hand, knee-jerk reactions from staunch evolutionists were that this was a back-door attempt to introduce religion and "creationism" into the classroom. On the other hand, the appalling response from conservative Christian Pat Robertson was that Dover, Pennsylvanians should not bother calling on God should a future disaster come their way since they denied Him with their vote! Really now, why do extremist views get all the press?

First of all, ID theory is not a new brand of creation science. Anyone who understands the debate knows this. Creation science is based on a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis and tries to support a young earth, a worldwide flood, and a literal six-day creation timeframe among other things. ID theorists don't support these assertions at all. Authentic ID theorists and the related and growing critics of evolution are not presupposing a literal reading of the Bible, but rather are simply pointing out the real problems with neo-Darwinism and specifically the mechanism that drives evolutionary theory--random mutations and natural selection. Yea, but aren't they closet fundamentalists pushing their agenda through a new means? Hardly. A case in point is David Berlinski, avowed agnostic, and one of Darwinism's harshest critics, who debates along side ID theorists against macro-evolution (check link in title).

Second, the Dover school board probably did include Christians who wanted to use ID theory to fight evolution. Their mistake, I believe, was trying to legislate rather than encourage science teachers who choose, to bring the scientific literature that critiques Darwinism into the classroom. There is real discrimination to those who attempt this (one teacher in Bellingham, WA did this a few years ago and got the boot).

Finally, who does Pat Robertson think he is? Those who voted against the school board aren't necessarily against ID theory, but perhaps against legislating its promotion. Others probably are not well informed about it with all the hype and half-truths out there. And even if they are well informed, what happened to the grace of God?

2 comments:

mael brigde said...

i think the problem with intelligent design is that it isn't a scientific question, in that science is intended not to answer the unprovable questions--is there a God, for instance--but to ask and attempt to answer testable ideas. so whereas many scientists do believe in God, they wouldn't be introducing those ideas into a science class, but a class on philosophy or religion. i recall listening to a Fundamentalist Christian scientist speaking on the topic and he said--fundamentally--the same thing.

Michael said...

Mael,

Thanks for your good comments! I agree that a scientist shouldn't be introducing concepts of God into a science class. However, my point is that ID does not necessitate a discussion about God. Many scientists and academians (Michael Behe, Leheigh U., Philip Johnson, UC Berkeley, Michael Denton, Australian biologist) are seeing the problems with Darwin's natural selection mechanism explaining development of extremely complex living systems. They see scientific evidence of intelligent design in organisms. This flys in the face of the theory that natural selection thru random mutation explains all of life. This is objective scientific observation even by an agnostic, such as Berlinski. You could argue that theists or fundys are biased toward God in introducing ID, but you can not make that argument for someone like Berlinski who has no religious agenda.