“Imagine that you are a teacher of Roman history and the Latin language, anxious to impart your enthusiasm for the ancient world — for the elegiacs of Ovid and the odes of Horace, the sinewy economy of Latin grammar as exhibited in the oratory of Cicero, the strategic niceties of the Punic Wars, the generalship of Julius Caesar and the voluptuous excesses of the later emperors. That’s a big undertaking and it takes time, concentration, dedication. Yet you find your precious time continually preyed upon, and your class’s attention distracted, by those who, with strong political and especially financial support, scurry about tirelessly attempting to persuade your unfortunate pupils that the Romans never existed. There never was a Roman Empire.
” – Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution (Dawkins). Fifty-one percent. That is how many Americans currently believe in the concept of Creationism or Intelligent Design (‘Design’). More than half of the population of our country rejects the theory that is being taught in nearly every science class in the United States. While I cannot say that I am too surprised by this number, it certainly does pack a punch.
And people plan to use it; proclaimed “Intelligent Design scientists” are popping up everywhere these days, attempting to bring God back into science. Though some people might think it is best to shrug them off as non-threatening, a few have realized that it is not that easy. Intelligent Design (ID) has a massive following and perhaps even more financial means. And there are many others who, while disagreeing with the idea of ID, think there would be some sort of beneficial effect from teaching it. Although many Americans are of the opinion that teaching Intelligent Design alongside Evolution in schools is a good method of “teaching the controversy”, it should not be reinstated into American schools, because it endorses a religious agenda rather than empirical fact, giving it no value in a science classroom.
In order to clear up any confusion on the topic, here are two very important terms that must be understood. Creationism: the belief that the universe was made by God exactly as described in the Bible. Intelligent Design: The belief that the universe and living things were created by an intelligent being. It is clear that one of these words has a distinct religious leaning while the other takes a stab at neutrality. Some would say that ID is just a cloaked version of Creationism, in order to return it to schools.
I tend to agree with the last statement. Many proponents for ID use the excuse “America is a Christian nation” to gain support for their cause (Is America). They are using polls to back up the fact that a large majority of the U.S. is Christian, as if it should make a substantial difference in the issue.
The fact is the United States has been founded on a separation of Church and State; religion is to be kept separate from the government. That is the entire point of being a secular nation. The proponents for Intelligent Design cannot decide to be religiously unbiased one day and Christian the next, simply because it suits their needs. Those who think that teaching Intelligent Design along with Evolution is a good thing are probably of the following opinion: “We have to include minority views in science so that people do not get upset. Also, it is a great way of informing children of the gaps in evolutionary theory”. There are two problems with this train of thought.
The first is that usually a minority opinion is that way for a reason. Perhaps a child is devoutly religious and has been told that Evolution is a silly idea, and the child does not wish to actively learn it. Maybe a parent gets offended by the teaching of evolutionary theory and decides that it’s time for a change (Judge). This can easily lead to a lack of information about an important topic, and the spread of ignorance like wildfire. Regardless of whether two percent or one hundred percent of children or parents believe in something, it is the responsibility of educated scientists to provide evidence for a theory or idea in order to allow it to be taught as real science. Opponents of evolutionary theory have not been able to do so, which is why many professionals are reluctant to teach it as such.
The second part of a common thought process is the portion on teaching the “gaps” in Evolution and creating skepticism about it. Firstly, it is ludicrous to suggest that in this day and age evolutionary theory has large gaps or contradictions. It is true that there are some controversies between scientists about the specifics, such as the exact time that a species might have gone extinct or which sub-species branched off in a certain part of a continent, but the theory itself is solid. But some opponents of Evolution certainly enjoy making it sound like Evolution is not valid. “It’s just a theory” they point out, showing little knowledge of scientific terms.
A theory is something that has been thoroughly tested and retested many times, each time proving to be valid and factual. Theories are extraordinary scientific achievements. There are many statements made about the supposed non-validity of Evolution, but the fact remains that even if tomorrow morning Evolution is disproven, that will have absolutely no positive effect on their own claim of Intelligent Design. It is a case of attempting to shed the burden of proof. Perhaps the most important key piece of evidence that Intelligent Design has a religious agenda is The Wedge.
This is the overall nickname for the activities and goals of those who are trying to move ID into schools as a substitute for creationism, and was created by the evolutionary critic Phillip Johnson, the co-founder of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (The Wedge). The point of it is to “affirm the reality of God” by slowly but surely forcing itself back into science curriculums throughout the United States. It uses a plethora of methods such as holding protests, rallies, and producing scientific data in favor of their claims, so they can aggressively enforce their own ideals. While it is certainly a failure from a scientific standpoint, it has had no problems with recruitment and gathering power. Proponents’ largest goal is to expose as many children to these ideas as possible, and to instill doubt in evolutionary theory. The Discovery Institute holds pride in claiming that the ideas of intelligent design will open up new venues in science, such as Systems and Animal Biology (Opposing).
Statements like these give Intelligent Design an artificial layer of ethos. Unfortunately, from my research I can informatively conclude that Intelligent Design has no validity science-wise. It would be irresponsible to reinstate it into our school science curriculum, since it does not seem to offer any individual advantages. But hopefully the way I have presented my view has not led you to think that we should get rid of ID altogether. People need to understand Creationism and Intelligent Design and how they influence society and culture. The two concepts would fit beautifully into a theology class, where they belong.
Dawkins, By Richard. “The Greatest Show on Earth: the …” Google Books. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. “‘Design’ Vs. Darwin – CBS Sunday Morning – CBS News.
” Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. “Intelligent Design in Public Schools – Should Intelligent Design Be Taught in Public Schools.” Civil Liberties at About.com – Your Guide to Civil Liberties News and Issues. Web. 04 Oct. 2010. “Is America A Christian Nation?” Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Web. 04 Oct. 2010. “Judge Bars ‘Intelligent Design’ From Pa. Classes.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia.
Web. 04 Oct. 2010.