Friday, May 26, 2006

The Anointing of Intelligent Design As A Science

(Note, I wrote this six months ago, but the primary points still hold).

It is Divinely Devout Dayton all over again – eighty lost, fruitless, aberrant years later. The Bible Thumpers, Holier than even God Himself, have managed to push through legislation in a number of states that is heaven-bent on introducing religion – and a very specific one at that –into the public school system via creationism. Of course, these devilishly clever Christians don’t call it creationism: they claim it is an alternative scientific theory, one known by the angelic appellation, “Intelligent Design”. They even take great pains to point out that it is supported by at least ten or fifteen brilliant, well known (amongst the wine and wafer crowd, anyway) and pious scientists. And, if those prominent purveyors of scrupulous scientific principles feel comfortable anointing ID as a science, then, by God, it must be one. Never mind the stench of simplistic superstition turned religious reality wafting from every pore of ID – that stench is not noticed by the right-minded, to them it is an aroma as sweet as a concoction of milk and honey.

Thus armed with a cleverly christened theory carefully canonized by sacred standard-bearers of science, the Kansas School Board, channeling God’s infinite wisdom, has decided that it is best to offer to the misguided youth of today’s unrepentant world pseudo-scientific ideas that are at odds with Darwin’s crazed theory that we might even be remotely related to “lower” life forms, or any of “God’s creatures” for that matter. Not the noble horse, not the majestic elephant, and certainly not some amorphous amoeba swimming in an imaginary primordial ooze. No, we are above all that, images of a God who did it all in six short days.

Note that I said “a God”: I assure you that there will be scant mention of the creation myths of the Hindus, the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Hittites or any other unholy cabal of confounded and confused pagans. No, ID is very much focused on one alternative reality, and that is the story of creation as found in the Bible and somewhat uncomfortably, in the Qu’ran.

Thus, ID is not as science. But, this is not merely because it is derived from the aforementioned religious mythology, but because it lacks they one key element by which all true scientific principles must be judged: disprovability. The theory is not testable. It cannot be proven or disproven. It is simply a matter of belief and as such, it is not science. Say what you will about Darwin’s theory, point out that it has weaknesses (and it does), note it’s difficulties if you wish, and in so doing you will have shown why evolution is a science and why ID is mere pietistic piffle.

Originally, I was going to end this piece by noting that in the final tally on this Day of Judgment it seems that Darwin was wrong; some people will never evolve: they lack the requisite intelligence to open their minds to reality, preferring instead to dance in some sacred cave of religious ignorance, for, as has been said by so many, ignorance is bliss. However, shortly after I had written that epitaph, voters in Dover, Pennsylvania fired the eight fired-up fundamentalists who had foisted ID on that little suburban town. So, Darwin was right – but sadly, it seems that evolution is even more selective that he thought. But, what bothers me the most about this whole debate is that the pushers of this piffle, smug in their sanctity, fail to grasp one of the great tacit implications in believing that there was a creator at work: what makes humans different from all other species is our ability to think, and this ability is a gift that these holy hucksters seem almost too willing to return unused. Thus, when they spit in the faces of those atheistic folks who seek a scientific solution to all mysteries, they are, in effect, spitting in the face of their God. One of these eschatological days, he just might decide to spit back.


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