Just saw this documentary on “Intelligent Design” and it’s driving me crazy!
Of course, I knew that there is this school of thought called Creationism, but I had not been aware that it was on the curriculum in some American schools till the late nineteen-eighties. Had I gone to an American school I might have been taught that and outside religious education. I had also not been aware of how “Intelligent Design” gives the whole discussion a new twist.
Sure, everybody is and must be free to believe whatever they want, but let’s not have them call it “Science”!
It is true, we know (at the latest since Descartes) that we cannot completely prove anything. In the end, even Descartes did not go far enough, because we cannot even prove that we think and the impression I have of my current chain of thought evolving is not trick of what I imagine to be my brain while in truth there isn’t even a past or time in general. And in that theoretical sense religion and science are not fundamentally different: Both rely on peer consensus for the building of a doctrine. But of course the methods for finding this consensus are very, very different. A new scientific theory can become the new doctrine if it measurably explains what we perceive in the world around us better than the old one. This is how Einstein’s theory of relativity replaced Newton’s mechanics. But just saying that there is some creator outside the world we can perceive who can do whatever at his bidding does not explain anything and definitely not in a measurable way. Also, science does not replace doctrines based on plausibility (otherwise quantum mechanics would never have taken off.) The concept, for example, of Specified Complexity in “Intelligent Design”, however, does. When Mr. Dembski says that certain things on Earth are so complex they could not possibly have evolved through chance and a pressure towards efficiency, it makes me want to shake him and yell at him “WHY NOT?” What he is really saying is that he does not think it is plausible, in other words: He does not believe it! But though belief is free as a bird, it is not the domain of science.
Now if you do some research on “Intelligent Design”, it is quite apparent that the scientific community has little problem with debunking any claim it makes on using a scientific methodology. Also, the people working in that so-called Discovery Institute are certainly, without any doubt, too intelligent to not understand that. What is more, they have proven their intelligence by singling out the tender spots in evolution theory with a very sure mark (even if the alternatives they offer aren’t any better than what the intend to replace.) Considering that, one can only come to the conclusion that they are acting on purpose claiming that their approach is scientific when they know full well it is not.
What then is that purpose? What are, if you will, the intelligent designs behind “Intelligent Design”?
Well, the very tangible thing, of course, is to win back some ground on the curriculum of American schools. Since the decisive strike against Creationism in American schools was the decision that it does not conform with the constitutional separation between government and religion, giving Creationism a form that claims to be not religiously motivated at all could help coming in through the back door. I don’t think that is all, though. The more long term strategy (and it does not matter if you consider the wedge strategy documents genuine or not) is certainly the deception of the general public. This, to me, makes it a Scientology of another kind. Even a more sophisticated Scientology because it is not as easily discernible as a sect. When you meet people in the street who try to sell Ron L. Hubbard’s Dianetics to you, you can easily quicken your pace and mumble something about being in a hurry, because you know it’s those funny people from that sect and all you want from them is being left alone. With “Intelligent Design” that is more difficult because you’re facing people who claim to only want to engage in a scientific discourse with you.
Again: Everybody is free to believe what they want and I will give all the respect I can muster to deeply felt beliefs.
But if somebody consciously deceives me and the public at large only to serve his own purpose, personally I can say it is neither the kind of people or school of thought I want to have anything to do with. What is more, the clearly subversive element is so serious a threat to our western way of life (at least as serious as any other religious fundamentalism) that I keep wondering when the President will start sending in the Marines. I expect it’s going to be up to us common people to stop them by speaking up, though.