Thursday, August 11, 2005

Intelligent Design - neither intelligent nor particulary well designed

Jacob Weisberg sums up my position on President Bush's sudden, but not at all surprising embrace of Intelligent Design pretty nicely:
If Bush had said schools should give equal time to the view that the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer, he'd have been laughed out of his office. The difference with evolution is that a large majority of Americans reject what scientists regard as equally well supported: that we're here because of random mutation and natural selection. According to the most recent Gallup poll on the subject (2004), 45 percent of Americans believe God created human beings in their present form 10,000 years ago, while another 38 percent believe that God directed the process of evolution. Only 13 percent accept the prevailing scientific view of evolution as an unguided, random process.
See, that's some scary shit. Now, I'm not that bothered by the 38 percent who believe God has a hand in evolution. But good god, 45 percent of Americans believe there was NO evolution?

So the Christian (sic) Right (sic) has always been trying to squeeze Creationism into our textbooks and now they're repackaging it as Intelligent Design. And man, there are so many problems with it, I'm not sure where to start.

On the basic level, it's just utterly wrong and you can read Jerry Coyne's point-by-point debunking/ass whooping in The New Republic if you're in the mood for a lot of reading. I mean, Intelligent Design would have been a lot more compelling if its conceivers had some understand of Evolution, Natural Selection and science in general. They spout on about how Evolution is only a theory and how it has never been observed in nature. Lesson? Don't trust mouth breathers to write your science textbook.

Another reason we can easily dismiss ID is because, well, it's not science. Science only deals with what can be observed and tested. More importantly, it demands skepticism and self-questioning. ID is a lazy man's theorizing. Rather than try to find answers for the unknown, it settles for the catchall intelligent designer. Assuming shit without evidence is the very definition of faith, the backbone of religion. Science does not dig faith one bit.

But my biggest problem with ID is that it's fucking dishonest. It pretends to be science when it's not. It pretends to not be religiously motivated when all it is is a retrofitted pseudo-theory that simply dresses up Creationism and removes the messy religious language. Its supporters ignore all that is accepted by the scientific community and pretends to inject "balance" when all they want to do is sneak ideology into science. It's like my issue with Bush - it's not that he's incompetent or misguided, but rather, he runs a dishonest administration whose success depends on an ever-moving set of goalposts.

I'd much rather see the religious nuts come out and say, "We're going to dumb our children down in the name of ideology" and home school their children so other parents can get their kids into schools other than Bob Jones.

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