So now Bush is pushing schools to teach Intelligent Design, another battle in the Christian fundamentalist campaign to bring America back to church. I say this because I think if the evolution vs. creationism debate was isolated from the rest of the religious-political crusade there would be far less heat.
The way creationists ignore the simple fact that many evolutionists actually do believe in God and even suggest that evolution is God’s creative process is evidence that this argument is a mere component in the larger struggle between religion and secularism which has nothing to do with God and everything to do with politics. Obviously, evolution does not negate the existence of God. This argument is all about the creationists negating the theory of evolution, a theory that makes God an option.
Intelligent Design is focused on discrediting evolution; this much can be said without argument. But what can be argued is that they are claiming to be “scientifically” disproving evolution. This is where I see the danger. Although the presentations of Intelligent Design come loaded with all the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights that we associate with science, they have yet according to the science community, to prove or disprove anything. Indeed, this isn’t your typically obscure group of lab technicians tucked away in some campus, working toward a whitepaper to be submitted to the scientific community, this is a widely broadcasted effort stocked with lay publications, television shows and even a U.S. president stating that it should be taught in schools… all this aimed at the lay public with the side-note that the scientific community simply doesn’t want to accept it. So it seems to be more than discrediting Darwin, it’s discrediting the science community itself, and secularism in general.
Perhaps, Intelligent Design is really about amazing the gullible public with the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights. This would be an obvious next step for religion which has always made adjustments in their presentation in order to appeal to the people of the time, the image of Jesus, who was a native of the middle east, as a young man of Germanic physique is a great example. Certainly in this modern era where our very society is built on the proven models of science, it would make sense for religion to morph into the image of science.
But what convinces me even more that Intelligent Design is not about science but about religion is the odd way in which the advocates pair religious dogma, always concerned with the absolute truth, with science which has never made claims to absolute truth. Science is merely a language of understanding by which theorists bring their ideas into communal acceptance. Newton and Einstein both did this, presenting their theories as mortal understandings while maintaining a belief that there is still a larger truth yet unknown and perhaps never to be mortally understood. The advocates of Intelligent Design on the other hand, have not yet managed to bring their anti-theories into communal acceptance, which in the simplest terms, means that they have not yet achieved the scientific goal. The fact that they proceed to flood the public forum with claims that they have already scientifically disproved evolution to me only proves that the scientific goal is not as important as simply convincing everyday people that evolution is wrong.
All bubbling test tubes aside, the ID community has completely missed the mark when considering the intention and foundation of science and falls completely in line with the forms and methods of manipulating public opinion, the true forum of organized religion.
Assuming that I’m right, it would be hard to measure the success of the Intelligent Design efforts. Science not really being the issue, Intelligent Design is nevertheless a popular anti-theory, but has it really converted anyone? It seems to me that most people who supported evolution still do and most people who support Intelligent Design were creationists to begin with. Again, this argument seems to be an extension of the religious war waged on secularism. I don’t see any reason to suspect that this will ever change, even if Bush and his allies do succeed in forcing Intelligent Design into public schools.
But I think public schools are going to have an awkward task of trying to teach scientific principles while also suggesting that Intelligent Design qualifies as science. It’s one thing to present alternatives to Darwinism or even to secularism but it’s another thing entirely to dissolve the structure of science itself. Personally, I would prefer that schools simply start teaching creationism as what it is, an alternate theory extracted from scripture despite science.