12/22/2005

keeping the Christ in Christmas and the id in I.D.

Common sense has prevailed in a rare, refreshingly candid refutation of Intelligent Design as a scientific theory. The media has handled the ID snake oil salesmen with kid gloves up to now, lest they fall victim to a bias toward reality-based, erm, reality. Proponents of ID have been taunting sensible folks, testing our tolerance for nonsense, and it was way past time for a serious smack-down. ID does not belong in science class, period. Maybe in sociology class, in the chapter on the madness of crowds. Or in psychology texts, under "denial" or "delusion" or (I'll get to this in a minute) "impotence/omnipotence" or "victim complex."

The relevant question all along has been something like: how does mention of ID in science class, or anything about ID itself help the nation's children prepare themselves for a world and a competitive market that both require knowledge and daily application of scientific inquiry? What does saying that cellular communication is too complicated to figure out, so it must have been invented by God, do to promote the kind of critical thinking needed to master the modern milieu? Nothing.

Believe in God to your little heart's content. Most scientists do. No one is suggesting such belief be banned or punishable by death. There is no Atheistic-Evolutionist cabal dreaming up a Holy Inquisition. No one is out to get you. There is no War on Christmas. Santa is safe. Isn't all this hysteria getting a little, I don't know, repetitive?

Once and for all: belief in the theory of Evolution does not conflict in any way with belief in God. What it conflicts with is the literal reading of the Biblical account of creation in the Old Testament Book of Genesis. That's what's at stake. Whether we will pay tribute to the literal reading of the Biblical account of creation in the Old Testament Book of Genesis in science classrooms or not. Period. This is a fringe Fundamentalist crusade, not a Christian one. Most sensible Christian people want to give their children the tools to succeed in the world. As for PR, all I have to say to the fundamentalists out there is: you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

As for shoving creationism down captive children's throats in science class. It's not a good time for it. Studies have shown that Americans have fallen way behind in the sciences. Here we are a society that takes advantage, to an unparalleled degree, of the amenities scientific research and development have produced, saying science and the scientific method are either at best, unimportant, or at worst utter nonsense. It's the height of decadence, is what it is. I mean, we're certainly not falling behind in consuming products that the scientific method alone has made possible.

We are Christian consumers, marching righteously to the Mall of America! We don't really understand where technology comes from, but that's OK, as long as we've got lots of it to amuse and entertain us! God will provide! God gave us X-Box, after all! 'Lectricity? Oh, that comes from Heaven. We flip this here switch, see, and an angel flies up to Heaven and asks God real nicely to turn on the lights, and when God says OK, the angel comes back real quick-like, and turns 'em on. Cell-phones? Why God invented them, too, of course. I couldn't never understand how to make one myself, so he must have!

That's about the level of intelligence you need to subscribe to Intelligent Design.

It's obviously not about promoting intelligence in our children, or encouraging them to pursue lines of rational inquiry or to think critically about the way things are and how to make them better, all of which science does. That's the thing. Science is optimistic. The religious mountebanks who are peddling ID are end-timers. They don't believe in this world, or in their own children's future, much less yours.

When you look at how the proponents of ID have reacted to this week's court decision barring it from mention in science classrooms, you get a sense of what ID is really about. It's not science, it's psychology.

There was an op-ed piece in yesterday's USA Today by John G. West, an associate director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture (which is basically a legitimate-sounding front for the ID political agenda). West, typically disingenuous, insists that ID is "not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory that holds there are certain features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause." In other words, it doesn't have to be God who "digitally encoded" our DNA, it could have been space aliens, or, heck, why not the devil? This is the blabadee-bla part of ID and is of little consequence, since it ponders the unknowable to no purpose.

He goes on (ingeniously applying the old "I'm-rubber-you're-glue" defense): "Evolutionists used to style themselves the champions of free speech and academic freedom against unthinking dogmatism. But increasingly, they have become the new dogmatists, demanding judicially-imposed censorship of dissent." This is a bit of sophistry, attempting to equate science and religion, when they are apples and oranges. What makes science is its method. How that method is applied, or what that method reveals may have implications for religion, somehow, but the two are different realms of inquiry, entirely.

And he goes further, succinctly stating the appeal of the ID movement to those in it: "Now, Darwinists are trying to silence debate through persecution." This is essentially the same thing Falwell's fundies are saying when they insist there's a war on Christmas, or Christianity in our culture: we are the real victims. The battle for ID in the schools is a battle to claim supreme victim status. Here you're spewing nonsense and trying to force it down everybody's throat, and when they finally say, "all right, that's enough," you cry victim. It's a little childish, isn't it?

I mean, here we have cries of victimization from those who would have forced teachers to capitulate to their dogma, just as the Pope forced Galileo to. The mandated mention of ID in science class was not about truth, or advancing our children's education so that they could succeed in the real, not some faith-based fantasy world; it was about power. And now that they have been rebuked, the victimizers are claiming victimization. Seriously though, can you say "cry for help"? But it's so boring. They're so, so boring.

I suspect that if we ignored them they would go away. There aren't nearly as many of them as their disproportionate mention in the media would suggest. Let's try it.

Or here's another solution: if you're one of these people, speak up, and we'll set up a little reserve for you all, where you can go and have your way and do as you like (I warn you: it won't be as much fun since you won't be able to impose it on anybody else). You can go and live just the way Adam and Eve did in the Bible story, since that's how God created you. That means, no cars, TVs or cell phones, because that's science. Good riddance, and God bless!

1 Comments:

Blogger dave bones said...

Interesting piece. I disagre with you. Intelligent design, divorced from the personalities of those who propogate it is a basic scientific theory which may or may not be true.

Good blog mate.

10:55 AM  

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