The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On intelligent design

Here is my problem with intelligent design. It is not science. This issue goes beyond just separation church and state (and this is coming from a guy who is a devout Catholic, believes "In God we trust" should remain on the dollar bill, and thinks the school voucher system to be quite acceptable). As someone who went to a Catholic high school, I am very familiar with ideas similar to those presented within intelligent design. Why? Because I learned them in THEOLOGY class! Darwin's theory of evolution and the Creation story have long been reconciled by the church. Those who espouse intelligent design have the basic gist of it, though Vatican scholars, bishops with PhDs in Biology &c, have gone into far more depth in addressing the specific data that has been shown to support the evolution theory. The question as to whether there is some intelligence behind the way in which the universe was created and has subsequently unfolded is a question to be considered by priests, philosophers, and theologians. Science is based upon the discovery and recording of EMPIRICAL DATA. I have yet to see any empirical, measurable data that supports the claim that the Universe was created by God. I still believe it to be so, wholeheartedly. This is why it is called faith. In fact, intelligent design, in its role as an attempt to "prove" the existence of God, erodes this concept of faith. This, then, damages our relationship with God, which is so dependent upon our ability to have faith in Him. Evangelicals often deride the theory of evolution because, as they say, it is only a theory and one with many holes in it. Further they believe it to be an attack by those godles scientists against the beliefs of a godfearing public. Theory is a very difficult word to work with, because it implies doubt. The theory on the movement of the planets by Copernicus or the Bohr theory of the Atom are also theories. They are broad models with which science works, and the scientific community may tweak if new evidence comes to light. But, though the models may not be absolutely perfect (motion, for example, is relative), the data supports them so well that they are not in danger of being thrown out (at such low speeds as the motion of the planets the effects of relativity are negligible). Evolution, like these models, fits so incredibly well with the data that no alternative theory can be produced to usurp it. None has as of yet - including ID. Belief in ID, in the minds of evangelicals, implies that if you are a Godfearing citizen you cannot accept the theory of evolution no matter how much scientific data supports it or how much we can learn from it. I understand the problem of reconciling evolution with a literal interpretation of Genesis - it completely counteracts their religious beliefs. Theologians and scholars of my religion, after "coming to grips" with science (we shall ignore that they didnt apologize for the excommunication of Galileo until the 1980s...), had to reevaluate their understanding of the Bible as a religious document. I think, eventually, many of the other Christian religions will be forced to do the same - though this process is hampered by the lack, especially among evangelicals, of central academic institutions through which they can really examine these issues and ideas. But I digress...The concepts presented in ID certainly deserve the attention of a theology class or philosophy class. In fact, and this may cause some consternation among some, but I would argue that religion should be taught in school to mature high school students. As an academic course, an elective, not to be taught as doctrine but as a serious study of the belief system of a particular group. But for one's OWN religious education, the responsibility lies with one's parents and religious community, not the school system. A science teacher's responsibility is to teach science. And as I said in the beginning, ID is not science. The evangelicals have their right to their beliefs, and the parents have every right to teach their children that what they are learning is wrong. But they do not have the right to impose their opinions onto the established scientific community and deprive the rest of our children of an accurate view of what SCIENCE says about the beginnings and development of life.


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