• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Keep ID out of the GA

It looks as if there's an outside chance the short session of the General Assembly won't be derailed by a contentious debate on intelligent design. Even some Republicans who might be inclined by philosophical predisposition to support including ID in science classrooms, such as Bill Friend and Brian Bosma, seem to have a good conservative aversion to the state dictating local education issues.

It's a little troubling, though, that even the people arguing against ID as science are a little off the mark when it comes to explaining why.

Gary Belovsky, a professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame, said evolution is science and is not contradictory with faith in God. This month, he said, the Vatican reaffirmed Pope John Paul II's 1996 statement that evolution is "more than a hypothesis because there is proof."
There is no scientifically tested proof, and cannot be, that a greater power controlled the development on Earth, he said, adding that the Pennsylvania vote to keep intelligent design out of science lessons "warmed my heart."
A scientific theory is a postulate put up against empiric evidence in an effort to disprove it. The propositions that aren't discredited move on and become part of our accumulated knowledge, until such time as the evidence gets better or our understanding of it does. ID isn't a valid scientific theory not because it can't be proven but because it can't be disproven.
That's not to say intelligent design -- or creationism, which is really what this is all about -- doesn't belong in the classroom. But it would be much more appropriate in a comparative-religion class. At the very least, if we're foolish enough to put it in a science classroom, I hope Hoosier legislators don't attempt to to actually redefine science as was done in Kansas. Let's at least acknolwedge that we are mixing faith and science.
The American Civil Liberties Union and its state affiliates have wasted a lot of time and energy fighting issues that really have nothing to do with true separation of church and state: Bibles on teachers' desks, creches on the courthouse lawn, voluntary prayer and moments of silence. But it's also clear that some people want more than "the return of religion to the public square." They want everybody else to bow down to their precise defintion of God. If Pat Robertson doesn't truly want a theocratic government, I wish he'd clear that up.


Steve Towsley
Mon, 11/14/2005 - 2:51pm

I agree that this is a stealth attempt to insert religious dogma into science class, but it will backfire, as such misguided efforts often do.

You see, intelligent design, when mentioned in science class, doesn't necessarily bring somebody's god to mind. In fact, there's a vast array of options here. It is certain that some teachers would rather fill the requisite ID class time with discussions of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, ancient astronauts and speculations about alien influences on the dawn of man. In a twist worthy of an episode of Twilight Zone, God might never come up in a discussion of intelligent design. Instead, you might get the UFO Files version.

And if god did come up, or was cleverly forced by the lesson plan to come up, whose god would it be? Don't count on Christian beliefs getting much shrift. Science being not just global but cosmological, it would be incumbent upon the teacher to mention everybody's god equally, would it not? If we're trading in faith theories in addition to the Big Bang, thoroughness would count.

Genesis is not in everybody's holy book, I imagine. Shall we be unfair to immigrants? Of course not, say our constitutional courts, and then we are forced to spend time teaching other cultures' creation concepts in science class as well, bet on it. After all, if you claim evolution is just a theory and faith-based theories are equally valid, then all the faith-based creation stories are fair game for inclusion. That's just good anthropology. We can't have religious discrimination in science class...

This ID-in-science-class business is truly daffy. Well meaning maybe, but daffy. Those who assume they're pushing Christian ideas into science are going to be savagely disappointed with what they have wrought, if they succeed in any significant way.