Monday 12 January 2009

Time to Say 'No' to Intelligent Design?

On the poll as to whether it was right or wrong to be attracted to people of one skin tone more than another, the results were conclusive, by four votes to nineteen.

Vive La Femmes Noire!

This week's poll is something that kind of makes the news, but I think we often miss what is really at stake.
Intelligent Design.

Most people don't quite understand what the argument is all about. At first I didn't either, because I didn't realise what the intelligent design case was. Because it's put in a way that hides the fact that it actually denies that evolution happened, or at least that evolution bears a fairly minor role in explaining the diversity of life and our own origins.

Now I suppose I don't mind people believing that, should they want to believe it. As long as people believing that aren't responsible for teaching my children. Just as I'm not sure I want people who believe in Illuminati conspiracies teaching my children History. Or people who believe the world is flat teaching them Geography. And that's the issue.

But now you're going to say that a parent who feels strongly about it, should have the right to decide. That parents of a fundamentalist background, should be allowed to bring their children up, being taught that intelligent design and evolution are two equally valid theories.

Firstly, can I step aside from that argument before I return to it and say just how INSULTING the intelligent design argument is to anyone who truly believes in an omnipotent deity. As, in fact, should the idea of the miraculous generally.

Let me say that in terms fundamentalists can understand. Which God sounds more omnipotent to you? The God who just clicked his fingers and off it went, or the God who couldn't do that? The God who knew in the instant he set the ball rolling, that he'd set it off rolling just how he wanted it to roll, or the God who knew he'd have to make more adjustments. Have to keep intervening, because he couldn't get it to do what he wanted it to do straight away?
An omnipotent God knows how things are going to pan out, so if he had to keep intervening, keep creating things, keep breaking the laws of the universe he started in the first place, then he isn't that intelligent a designer.

I agree our universe does look quite well designed, if you want to look at it like that. But frankly, I prefer the Silmarillion Illuvatar, with his 'Ea, let it be' and it was. A simple creative act and then everything followed. A universe implicit in it's creation with all the laws that would allow our universe to DESIGN ITSELF.

So in my view, if you don't accept the WONDER that is evolution, the WONDER that is the history of life, you believe in a far less wondrous God than I happen to.

Because, contrary to what you might think, I do believe in God. Not the anthropomorphic bearded figure who damns people to Hell if they argue with him, but the force that is the life energy of the universe itself, creation, existence, energy all rolled into one. My God didn't CREATE existence, s/he IS existence. And that is the wonder the fundamentalist- and the atheist - misses. God is existence, Existence is God.

Intelligent Design belittles the wonder of the universe, it belittles it's workings, and it belittles the power of life. It insults every lifeform that has ever existed. It insults the benevolence of the deity and his/her intelligence. It insults the struggle for survival, it denies that, as one nineteenth century cleric said of evolution 'The Wonder is that God allowed creatures the free will to make themselves'.

I would argue that fundamentalist insult the God they purport to revere by refusing to accept the wonders of the universe, in refusing to believe that God made a universe which allowed life to evolve in. That their God has to do it himself, because he's not INTELLIGENT enough to create a universe in which evolution yields amazing results such as us.

Dawkins calls the argument from Irreducible Complexity, the argument from Personal Incredulity. what he means is that when an Intelligent Design supporter points to something and says 'That couldn't have evolved', what he really means is 'I refuse to believe in complex processes I don't understand and have no imagination to conceive of how it could have happened, aside from a flash of magic'.

So I would argue that anyone of a truly religious disposition should have as much contempt for Intelligent Design as I do.

But people will argue that they have a right to promote it. That parents should have the right to decide if their children are taught in schools as an alternative to evolution.

Actually, no.

Schools are there to teach people facts. Not gloss facts to support belief systems. Especially not damaging belief systems that could hold people back.

You can say parents should have the right to decide what their children are taught, but education is paid for out of general taxation. Why? Because we tend to assume we're giving the next generation the skills they need to become valuable members of society. So, yes, it certainly does concern me if there is even a SINGLE school, funded by taxpayers money, teaching children that Intelligent Design is a valid way of explaining the history of life.

Because when funds that I have contributed to are being used ostensibly to ensure that medical and scientific knowledge advances properly in the future, I want to be sure it does that.
It could make a difference.

That one school where Intelligent Design was taught as being of equal value as a theory to evolution, could have a pupil there who one day finds themselves as a microbiologist looking at something very odd in the test tube. And I want them to pursue why it is odd, not just say 'Irreducible complexity'.

We have to stop this attempt to halt Scientific advance.
Tax-funded education should not pay to spread ignorance.

Or so I feel.
But it's up to you.

Poll's in the sidebar.

Have your say!


Anonymous said...

Nothing like a bit of healthy controversy.

Anonymous said...

No two people are going to agree on this subject I'm afraid. I have my own ideas about Creationism vs Evolution.

I think ultimately the parent is responsible to teach their children what they wish to pass along.

However, the most personal decisions ever made in one's own life is deciding sexual orientation, religion and political views. People will believe what feels right to themselves, despite their parental rearing or public education.

Nice post luv!

Anonymous said...

I figure you'll catch some stick for this post if the ID lot spot it.

For the record, the way I see it for an omnipotent God it has got to be an absolute snip to fix everything so it... well, just happens.

Like the universe comes into being and changes through time as stars and galaxies form and die and eventually life arises and evolves. Might even be more fun and challenging to do it that way.

So Darwin might just have been commenting on how God likes to work. Methodology.

So-called Intelligent design seems pretty limited and designed to look scientific, maybe because they figure it might have more credibility like that.

I agree. It does almost seem to betray a lack of confidence/faith in God's capabilities.

Anonymous said...

What about the eye then -how did that 'evolve' ay ay? On a lighter note may I say how well you are looking these days?

Anonymous said...

State schools have to stick to facts. That's not to say that a variety of beliefs shouldn't be discussed at all of course.

We do have to allow independent faith schools which are run by certain religions to exist and teach what they believe to the children of parents that choose to send them there.

I believe in a power of some sort but it's what I'd call "nature" and that's what I taught my kids even though I sent them to a Christian school.

I wanted them to see both sides so they could have an informed choice as they grew up.

Anonymous said...

Intelligent design could be taught in schools, in either religious or philosophical classes. It just can't logically be taught as a science

Anonymous said...

Well said. I'm with you right down the line. I've posted on it in the past. Intelligent Design is clearly a political and religious movement, not a scientific one. And although parents should have a say in schools, they should not be able to decide about the teaching of well documented theories.

Anonymous said...

Maddy- Well, controversy is needed sometimes.
I think this is a case of ideology masquerading as serious science.

Sweet Cheeks- Parents can teach what they like, it's the idea that a state funded education system should support such ideas.
It's a bit like state education systems teaching people that aliens come down and abduct people.

Moggs- That's kind of how I see it. I feel that if you attribute to god anything other than a first cause, you kind of devalue the concept.
One would have thought anyone TRULY religious would embrace the concept of evolution as showing the amazing power of the deity.

Mutley- 41 times, in fact. But the evidence suggests that actually, a rudiemtary eye, not one we can always see, existys in all Bilaterians. The reason we know that, is because the same gene produces eyes in all bilaterians, just different eyes. So it suggests all bilaterians have some form of light sensitive organ at the front somewhere.

Looking well? Not sure how you know that, but it depends on your point of view. By my standards, yes, but my standards probably aren't strictly healthy...
I'm down to nine and a half now...
But how do you know that?

Sue- I agree, but within limits. I'm Catholic myself, so I would incline to having my own children brought up in Catholic schools. Fortunately, Catholicism doesn't go to extreme lengths in pushing a divide between religion and known facts.

Children need to be taught fundamental laws of nature according to the best knowledge available. And intelligent design isn't it.

Charles- No, I agree. It's not science. It's not science, because it says that the answer isn't an explanation, it's a mystery.
And that can never be science.

Anonymous said...

''s a mystery.
And that can never be science'

Heaven forbid. The only reason science moves forward to the next horizon, is exactly BECAUSE of the Mystery. It is at the very core of Science it seems to me. And not just me either.

As for alien abduction - I've Been abducted several times of late. It's just you were not there to see it. Obviously.

Interesting post Crushed.

Anonymous said...

I find it a complete absurdity the way we typically approach the teaching of children. Choosing which testimony to label truth and ram into their heads.

My child will have access to any and all testimonies and will be tought the difference between school learning and real learning and will be tought how to think for themselves.