Sunday, August 21, 2005

Off-site Essay: On Intelligent Design

One of the many myths that have been foisted upon general public think that the controversy over teaching Creationism in school is a scientific controversy. It is not, of course. It is a religious controversy. The reason for the confusion, however, is deliberate. The American courts have consistently rules that religious doctrines can not be taught in public schools.

For years certain groups have tried to make an argument that "creation science" is a legitimate scientific alternative that ought to be given legitimate secular attention. Those efforts have largely failed; however, in recent years creation advocates have adopted a more subtle platform called "intelligent design". Let us make no mistake, "intelligent design" is just creationism by another name as evidenced by the fact that such groups has the Institute of Creation Research has gotten behind efforts to wedge it into public curricula.

ID theorist have, never the less, been reasonably cagey in the way that they've packaged it. They avoid the more blatantly religious claims such as the notion of a young Earth and the Noachian flood. Indeed, they go out of their way to avoid using the "G" word, only opining that there is an unspecified "intelligence" behind the existence of life on Earch. Of course, this is about as subtle of a code-word as Madison Garden's use of the word "Urban" to mean black. Never the less, ID comes off as being less extreme than generic Creationism which has allowed it to seem more palatable to the public at large and, thus, more politically savory. Unfortunately, the media have played into these efforts by presenting ID as just another side to the topic with the implication that the dispute is one of competing scientific theories.

Today's off-site essay is by Jon Carrol who is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is one of the few editorialists I've seen who seems to have a consistently solid grasp on matters of science and public policy and one who is definitely not buying into the smoke-screen being thrown up by those who believe that our schools should be a center for the public indoctrination of private religious beliefs.

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