Monday, May 09, 2005

IDiot America

Yet again proponents of "Intelligent Design" (or, more correctly, a religiously-inspired pseudoscientific call for the introduction of supernaturalism into the natural sciences) have gained control of the Kansas State Board of Education. An editorial in the Washington Post this weekend takes them to task:
But there is no serious scientific controversy over whether Darwinian evolution takes place. Intelligent design is not science. Whatever its rhetoric, the public questioning of evolution is fundamentally religious, not scienific, in nature. That is not to say that wonder is illegitimate; it is a perfectly reasonable response to the beauty and enormity of the universe to believe that it could not have happened without a divine hand. But the proper place to discuss such belief is not the public schools. Biology classes need to be taught with sensitivity to the religious sensibilities of students but not by casting doubt on evolution.
As the Kansas State Board of Education science committee begins hearings on the subject, scientists - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science - have opted to boycott the proceedings.

The format and agenda of the hearing before the board's education subcommittee "suggests that the theory of evolution may be debated," wrote Leshner. "It implies that scientific conclusions are based on expert opinion rather than on data."

But, he added: "The concept of evolution is well-supported by extensive evidence and accepted by virtually every scientist. Moreover, we see no purpose in debating interpretations of Genesis and 'intelligent design' which are a matter of faith, not facts."

Anyone doubting the true motivations of Intelligent Design advocates should see the disturbing internal memo from the Center for Science and Culture commonly referred to as "The Wedge Document."
Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.
And, in stating their goals:
The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip Johnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

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