Charles Krauthammer wrote good piece on intelligent design for the Washington Post. To a certain degree, it changed my mind on the subject.
First, Krauthammer outlines the stupidity of the whole debate — from both sides.
“The two greatest scientists in the history of our species were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and they were both religious. Neither saw science as an enemy of religion. On the contrary. ‘He believed he was doing God’s work,’ James Gleick wrote in his recent biography of Newton. Einstein saw his entire vocation — understanding the workings of the universe — as an attempt to understand the mind of God. ”
As liberals attempt to make science the enemy of religion, conservatives dignify this idiocy with intelligent design rather than by pointing out the flaws in the argument. The ID controversy doesn’t have to be an us versus them debate. Really, all we need to do is realize that “they” have hijacked and perverted the perspective from which they stand.
Two of the greatest minds in this world didn’t see faith and thinking to be contradictory, so why should conservatives allow the political minority in this country to tell us otherwise? Instead of spending time defeating the obviously twisted and misguided view that divinity and evolution can not coexist, those on the right invented a half-brain theory and attempted to force it down the throats of the public. Now, tell me: Whom does that sound like?
“Let’s be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological ‘theory’ whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge — in this case, evolution — they are to be filled by God. It is a ‘theory’ that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, ‘I think I’ll make me a lemur today.’”
Believe me, there are plenty of holes in the evolutionary theory, but instead of simply asking teachers to begin highlighting them, we alienated academia with our methods. By forcing intelligent design — at times upon unwillingstudents and parents — we shoot ourselves in the foot. Hell, we even invited Pat Robertson down for the obligatory “make a complete ass of yourself and religion” approach.
Dissatisfaction with evolution isn’t sufficient justification for the submission of an equally flawed new theory. If God has the random power to create new species, why wouldn’t he just do it all the time, rather than leave it up to evolutionary chance? Sporadic influence doesn’t sound too much like perfection to me.
Look, I completely understand the creationist argument. I even took that side when the debate came to my high school, but now I see that it’s becoming ridiculous.
“Why not teach both sides of the story?”
Because one side of the story doesn’t really fit in a science class. Its absurd to be teaching biblical tenets in a class based in mathematics and observation. It would be like a class on American history teaching the Japanese view just to keep things fair.
The compromise lies somewhere in the middle. You don’t have to be all-inclusive to be fair. Evolution is, in the end, just a theory. Thus, the balance lies in teaching it as such. There is no reason, nor available time, to teach both sides of the spectrum and everything in between. Merely presenting a simple allusion and mentioning repeatedly that there is in fact another side is all that it takes.
Conservatives feel so threatened by evolution (to be honest I have no idea why) that they have been making asses of themselves. Listening to the theory of evolution doesn’t make you a sinner, and no one is forcing anyone to believe it. You aren’t going to make any friends by forcing a countertheory on children. Do you really think that a science teacher teaching creationism against his or her will is going to change a lot of minds?
“How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.”
Evolution doesn’t have to be the enemy of religion and conservatives don’t need to be the enemy of science. Faith may be an integral part of modern Republicanism, but it isn’t the only part. You may not believe that “separation of church and state” is provided for in the US Constitution, but you will find that most people do — and they agree with it. Politically, especially right now, this party needs to pick its battles — intelligent design sure as hell isn’t a strong enough theory on which to make a stand.
Instead of diplomatically presenting the cause, conservatives went around and made fools of themselves. Let’s leave that for the liberals. Let’s not move the public discourse backward with reactionary responses to things we don’t like. Remember, hearing the other side of the story every now and then never did anyone any harm.