Monday, October 24, 2005

Intelligent Design an Equal to Modern Evolutionary Biology?:
When Faith Loses Focus, Dogmatic Science Is Born

I finally read through Cornell Interim President Hunter Rawlings's State of the University Address this morning. For those unaware, Rawlings recently became the first major academician to speak out against the Intelligent Design hysteria that's been sweeping across these States.

Rawlings's address is probably the first in of its kind that hasn't bored me to tears or served as a temporary cure for insomnia. Ask anyone who's ever had to sit through one of these things, and you'll soon discover I'm probably not alone. Normally, university presidents use this type of forum to try to make their institution look and feel better than it really is.

Instead, Rawlings used his speech to raise the warning flag on a serious issue that's bigger and more important than one single university.

Intelligent Design sounds like a legitimate scientific theory -- on the surface. But a close analysis reveals that its simply bad science, a smoke-and-mirrors charade more worthy of a exhibit in a Ripley's Museum than in the classroom. Its main proponents are not the great minds of science but leading members of the Christian community, many of whom are staunch critics of anything that would dare question the evolution of mankind as presented in the Book of Genesis.

While Intelligent Design theories have been advocated from many a pulpit, it has been ignored, even ridiculed by an extreme majority of biologists.

The belief that somehow the teaching of human evolutionary theory has corrupted the faithful or invited Satan into the classroom is absurd. Intelligent Design was born out of that absurdity - a theory based more on one particular set of religious teachings than on universally accepted principles of scientific research and scholarship.

Its proponents, in the end, do more to harm to the Body of Christ than good, creating the very human sin of stringing together obscure ideologies in an attempt to defeat some imaginary conspiracy against God. To that end, the attempt to introduce Biblical creationism into the hard sciences is more akin to the insanity of the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials than to any great intellectual or philosophical pursuit.

Religious belief and science are not the opposing forces that many people - theologians as well as hardcore secular humanists - portray. Scientific and religious thought, to the contrary, have long served as the buttresses that support human civilization, not merely balancing one another but helping to support the human need to build a better world. While scientific thinkers like Ben Franklin, Marie Curie and Isaac Newton helped show man new ways to harness nature's power for good, clerics like St. John of the Cross, Francis of Asissi, and Martin Luther King helped show man the awesome power of the human soul.

The real danger posed by theories like Intelligent Design and the Creation Science fable is not in the immediate impact sought by its proponents and supporters; instead, it is the long-term effect caused by those seeking to divorce scientific thought from religious thought, with one set of ideas seeking to supercede the other.

This sort of heresy leads only to human grief and suffering for the sake of ideological polarity; when religion supercedes science, men like Galileo end up excommunicated or burned at the stake. When scientific exploration loses its spiritual meaning, the doors are opened up for accepting the torture and execution of people as a legitimate form of experimentation - a gory lesson the world learned thanks to the Third Reich.

Intelligent Design may have its place, but it is not in the research labs of schools or universities.


Anonymous said...

Intelligent design is sorta like compassionate conservative...doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot but people jump on the bandwagon

Megan said...

why is it that like a billion people in the world have no problem with biology but here we have a few fundie nuts who end up making a big whoop about evolution being against christianity??? they burned a lot of women as witches back in the day because they didn't like women doing their own thing. I'm sure some of these same idiots would burn books and biology teachers today if they could get away with it.