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(Un)Intelligent Design

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Crabby Old Lady has been crabbier than usual this week (here and here) and today she’s tackling an issue she’s been wanting to spout off about for several months.]

The controversy over teaching intelligent design in tandem with evolution in science class - a proposal our brilliantly intelligent, well-spoken and popular president endorses – has received far too much serious attention for Crabby Old Lady to endure.

In case you’ve missed the terabytes of words published on this topic pro and con, Wikipedia boils down its definition to this:

“Intelligent design…is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent.”

In other words, a smart cosmic spirit, not evolution, accounts for life. You can read the similar Judeo-Christian explanation for the origin of life in Genesis. (Crabby recommends the King James version for the beauty of its language.)

Although not all, many intelligent design proponents avoid identifying their supposed designer as God, but that’s just a political ploy to circumvent the constitutional doctrine of the separation of church and state as it applies to publicly-funded schools. So when you run across IDers’ references to a designer, you can substitute the word God if you like – it means the same thing. You can also substitute the word creationism for intelligent design if that suits you. ID is just fancy dress for creationism.

There appear to be as many variations on intelligent design as there are angels dancing on the head of a pin. Most adhere to the proposition that life is too complex for mutation and natural selection, the two primary aspects of the scientific theory of evolution, to be possible.

Oh, pshaw! All anyone need do to see the monumental flaw in that thinking is to consider the threat of another hot media topic - an avian flu pandemic. As biologist, Olivia Judson, explained in The New York Times last week, the H5N1 virus which so far, it appears, can pass only from fowl to humans, could “learn” to pass between humans in two ways:

“The virus might infect someone already sick with a strain of human flu, and the two viruses could have sex, thus creating a new virus that contains some genes from each. Such viral hanky-panky is thought to have led to the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968. Or the virus could mutate - acquire accidental changes to its genetic material - in such a way that it becomes able to travel between people.”

Until someone can prove to Crabby Old Lady that not a single intelligent design advocate has taken a flu shot nor accepted the need for a new one each year – a tacit admission of belief in evolution – their arguments for teaching ID on a par with evolution are a sham, an attempt to cram Christianity, especially the evangelical variety, down the throats of America’s children at taxpayer expense.

Crabby has no objection to teaching a supernatural explanation of life - whether it is called creationism, intelligent design or fairy tale - as long as it remains at home or in Sunday school. To equate it with biology, chemistry, physics and evolution is as witless as according astrology the same legitimacy as astronomy.

It is shocking to Crabby Old Lady that there are places in the U.S., such as Kansas last Tuesday, which have ignorantly voted to change “the definition of science, expanding it to include supernatural explanations of natural phenomena” (UK Guardian) and promote intelligent design to equal status with evolution. Revoking Darwinism from the curriculum is, as Olivia Judson warns in the Times, a dangerous and frightening mistake:

“…we can use our knowledge of evolutionary processes in powerful and practical ways, potentially saving the lives of tens of millions of people. So let's not strip evolution from the textbooks, or banish it from the classroom, or replace it with ideologies born of wishful thinking. If we do, we might find ourselves facing the consequences of natural selection.”

Comments

Yes! Yes! Yes! There's nothing crabby about you old lady. You hit the nail right on the head. These are important (to put it mildly) vital issues our nation is facing. Tying together the science of the possible bird flu mutation with the magical thinking of intelligent design within the framework of science is self-explanatory.

Science and religion can live together, but one should not be confused with the other.

I would go so far as to say our very democracy is at risk of being lost over time if the separation of church and state is not maintained.

My ancestors who left England for religious freedom, fought in the revolution to establish this country, understood only too well the necessity of maintaining the church/state separation so both could flourish.

Those who ultimately wrote our constitution did their best to protect us from all who might knowingly or unknowingly undermine the very foundation of this country by weakening the protections they gave us.

We must protect our freedoms, our way of life, our country for ourselves, our children, future generations. We could well lose all. To paraphrase another, all it takes is for good men/women to do nothing.
We must not be silent on this issue.

I'm from Kansas (long story), and felt the need to chime in on this topic the day after the debate:

http://www.allthepages.org/archives/2005/11/ignorance_in_kansas.html

Don't know that it did much good, but I had to speak out.

guess I should have previewed; I'm used to these systems automatically turning URLs into links. Here's my post railing against ignorance in Kansas

Drives me crazy too and you said it well for why. This country is as fundamentalist in certain regions (which unfortunately are spread across the nation) as the Muslim hardliners; and this 'faith based' thinking has spread throughout our government and led to a growing ignoring of real consequences. Ack!

Could not agree more. In my town, the first thing I looked for in the candidates was whether they supported ID being taught - one candidate actually said he thought evolution was a myth - I figured that was a reflection of stupidity. It is worthwhile to note that my candidates won. And the school board election in Dover, PA was another good sign. Perhaps the more we debate this issue, the more chance we have of reason prevailing.

a friend of mine calls our home-grown religious extremists the christian taliban.

don't have enough nerve, yet, to utter that aloud (in person).

I was born and raised in Kansas. That is something I used to be proud of. After last week's election I'm now ashamed to admit it. It was always a state of Republican Conservatism but now it has become something I don't understand or even recognize. Thank goodness, I no longer live in Kansas!

I guess the Kansas board of education will be turning down all supplies of flu vaccine ... see Kansas turns down flu vaccine

Thank you Ronni! I am so sick of hearing and reading about so-called "intelligent design". I am extremely concerned about Bush's merger of church and state. The whole i.d. fabrication is just one of the stitches that hold it together - so far. In the end, I still have faith (though dwindling) that common sense and reason will prevail and the intent of the founders will be upheld.

Even the greatest scientific mind of our time, Stephen Hawking, allows the possible existence of a higher being while managing to keep that separate from our growing scientific body of knowledge. Balance and perspective are refreshing concepts in our distorted world of 2005.

Today I read one from Ireland that jarred the senses as to how bad it could get if Bush continues on his course and institutes a totalitarian theocracy. Read:
http://www.thinkingoutloud.biz/archives/000441.html

Reverse the argument and wonder why do the proponents of intelligent design want to reduce God to the confines of science. Science is concerned with the study of the natural world; religion with the supernatural. Personally, I prefer my God to remain supernatural, literally "above and beyond" nature.

Maybe I believe this because of what one of my science teachers said to me over 30 years ago. (Teachers do make an impression.) When someone in out class ask, "But why..." he replied. "Science is concerned with what and how, religion and philosophy with why."

All the crazy Talibaptists (okay, maybe that was an unnecessary slam, but the moniker fits a broad range of folks one fry short a happy meal) and their brethren give me gas.

I am having trouble believing this is a new century.

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