Skip to comments.How Intelligent Design Hurts Conservatives (By making us look like crackpots)
Posted on 08/18/2005 5:17:34 PM PDT by curiosity
The appeal of "intelligent design" to the American right is obvious. For religious conservatives, the theory promises to uncover God's fingerprints on the building blocks of life. For conservative intellectuals in general, it offers hope that Darwinism will yet join Marxism and Freudianism in the dustbin of pseudoscience. And for politicians like George W. Bush, there's little to be lost in expressing a skepticism about evolution that's shared by millions.
In the long run, though, intelligent design will probably prove a political boon to liberals, and a poisoned chalice for conservatives. Like the evolution wars in the early part of the last century, the design debate offers liberals the opportunity to portray every scientific battle--today, stem-cell research, "therapeutic" cloning, and end-of-life issues; tomorrow, perhaps, large-scale genetic engineering--as a face-off between scientific rigor and religious fundamentalism. There's already a public perception, nurtured by the media and by scientists themselves, that conservatives oppose the "scientific" position on most bioethical issues. Once intelligent design runs out of steam, leaving its conservative defenders marooned in a dinner-theater version of Inherit the Wind, this liberal advantage is likely to swell considerably.
And intelligent design will run out of steam--a victim of its own grand ambitions. What began as a critique of Darwinian theory, pointing out aspects of biological life that modification-through-natural-selection has difficulty explaining, is now foolishly proposed as an alternative to Darwinism. On this front, intelligent design fails conspicuously--as even defenders like Rick Santorum are beginning to realize--because it can't offer a consistent, coherent, and testable story of how life developed. The "design inference" is a philosophical point, not a scientific theory: Even if the existence of a designer is a reasonable inference to draw from the complexity of, say, a bacterial flagellum, one would still need to explain how the flagellum moved from design to actuality.
And unless George W. Bush imposes intelligent design on American schools by fiat and orders the scientific establishment to recant its support for Darwin, intelligent design will eventually collapse--like other assaults on evolution that failed to offer an alternative--under the weight of its own overreaching.
If liberals play their cards right, this collapse could provide them with a powerful rhetorical bludgeon. Take the stem-cell debate, where the great questions are moral, not scientific--whether embryonic human life should be created and destroyed to prolong adult human life. Liberals might win that argument on the merits, but it's by no means a sure thing. The conservative embrace of intelligent design, however, reshapes the ideological battlefield. It helps liberals cast the debate as an argument about science, rather than morality, and paint their enemies as a collection of book-burning, Galileo-silencing fanatics.
This would be the liberal line of argument anyway, even without the controversy surrounding intelligent design. "The president is trapped between religion and science over stem cells," declared a Newsweek cover story last year; "Religion shouldn't undercut new science," the San Francisco Chronicle insisted; "Leadership in 'therapeutic cloning' has shifted abroad," the New York Times warned, because American scientists have been "hamstrung" by "religious opposition"--and so on and so forth. But liberalism's science-versus-religion rhetoric is only likely to grow more effective if conservatives continue to play into the stereotype by lining up to take potshots at Darwin.
Already, savvy liberal pundits are linking bioethics to the intelligent design debate. "In a world where Koreans are cloning dogs," Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote last week, "can the U.S. afford--ethically or economically--to raise our children on fraudulent biology?" (Message: If you're for Darwin, you're automatically for unfettered cloning research.) Or again, this week's TNR makes the pretty-much-airtight "case against intelligent design"; last week, the magazine called opponents of embryo-destroying stem cell research "flat-earthers." The suggested parallel is obvious: "Science" is on the side of evolution and on the side of embryo-killing.
Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable way, summed up the liberal argument earlier this year:
Exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education . . . a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.
Terri Schiavo, sex education, stem cell research--on any issue that remotely touches on science, a GOP that's obsessed with downing Darwin will be easily tagged as medieval, reactionary, theocratic. And this formula can be applied to every new bioethical dilemma that comes down the pike. Earlier this year, for instance, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued ethical guidelines for research cloning, which blessed the creation of human-animal "chimeras"--animals seeded with human cells. New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade, writing on the guidelines, declared that popular repugnance at the idea of such creatures is based on "the pre-Darwinian notion that species are fixed and penalties [for cross-breeding] are severe." In other words, if you're opposed to creating pig-men--carefully, of course, with safeguards in place (the NAS guidelines suggested that chimeric animals be forbidden from mating)--you're probably stuck back in the pre-Darwinian ooze with Bishop Wilberforce and William Jennings Bryan.
There's an odd reversal-of-roles at work here. In the past, it was often the right that tried to draw societal implications from Darwinism, and the left that stood against them. And for understandable reasons: When people draw political conclusions from Darwin's theory, they're nearly always inegalitarian conclusions. Hence social Darwinism, hence scientific racism, hence eugenics.
Which is why however useful intelligent design may be as a rhetorical ploy, liberals eager to claim the mantle of science in the bioethics battle should beware. The left often thinks of modern science as a child of liberalism, but if anything, the reverse is true. And what scientific thought helped to forge--the belief that all human beings are equal--scientific thought can undermine as well. Conservatives may be wrong about evolution, but they aren't necessarily wrong about the dangers of using Darwin, or the National Academy of Sciences, as a guide to political and moral order.
You can choose private schools.
Taxpyer funded public schools have no place promoting religion of any kind.
Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.
You're free to start your own school.
So you say goodnight to anyone who challenges you.
So tell me about the leftist indoctrination of engineering students? I am wanting to hear.
Religious fundamentalism of any kind really doesn't belong in schools and government. And nobody is pulling out cornerstones here. I am not calling anyone Taliban but am comparing the Taliban to any religion that imposes limitations of people to be free of that or any other religion.
You do have to consider that there is a taliban like quality to some fundamentalist religions right here in this country. There is and that is the imposition of their vision on others without consideration of the wishes, rights or freedom of those others.
There is a remarkable religious freedom in this country. In homes, churches, synogogues, private schools, clubs.
And the good old days were not days without serious societal problems. And the country is not going to hell in a handbasket. It is not time for a theocracy.
"Speciation is at the boundary between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is a change over the genetics in a population's allele frequencies, mainly by genetic drift and natural selection. ...Yet the cumulative change during millions of speciation episodes over vast tracts of time must account for macroevolution, the level of change that is evident over the time scale of the fossil record."
All that says is that the creationist-derived terminology has infested the debate/literature. Its called "memetics", and is exactly the same process by which yesterday's "communists" have become today's "liberals".
And the existence of a lot of "Google" hits means squat. I suspect if you did a search on "flat earth", you'd find a pretty large number of hits, too.
Intelligent design is not science, it is religion. Any scientist that believes in it to the exclusion of evolution is a crackpot and the anti-Darwin conservatives would be wise to shape up and not act like religious loons.
Marosm and selcuar humanism are believe structures too, there is no such thing ad "metaphysical nuertal" education, as well you know. You are just being dishonest here.
Exactly so no predictability then no design right? Pretty straight forward and clear.
Thunder:So if we live in a created universe it is beyond the powers of science to confirm it?
Dimensio: If the "creator(s)" is/are of supernatural origin, then yes.
If that is the case, then "science" should stay out of that business. Theories should be discussed and debated, of course, but we should never lose site that they are theories - not dogma...
Kids should not drink hard spirits.
Fundamentally, evolution relies on the hypothesis that all life forms (or certainly most life forms) trend to higher complexity. So the big question in my mind is why only primates evolved to become sentient. Why are there not a vast array of higher order being? You know, monkey-man, horse-man, cat-man, and maybe even roach-man?
It absolutely conflicts with evolution if evolution means we descended from apes. Adaptation is obvious but if you believe we (humans) evolved from something else, then you can't believe Genesis.
"Kids should not drink hard spirits."
True or they would become "sottish" word means stupid.
I have read the theories about evolution(now being taught to our children as facts rather than mere theories) and survival of the fittest and in my opinion they are as full of holes and overwhelmed by so many could not have happeneds, that in my opinion it should be listed under science fiction.
Each cell in this warm and functional human body could not survive outside a very limited range of temperature variation that can only be maintained by the temperature controls designed into this human body and that of other species.
It could not exists, except upon a planet, designed to supply it's every need.
I am comfortable with calling our creator, God, but am willing to leave it to others to call the creator what ever they wish. My problem is with those who rabidly demand that to have our intellect respected and not be called crackpots, we must agree with them that all the wonders around us, just happened.
It should not be any kind of problem for believers in ID. They do not do research.
It would only be a problem for those who want to study biology in an ID predicated environment.
I am, of course, distinguishing between ID as currently described by its proponents and Creation.
Talk about living proof.
Of course there are margins and studies that cross them.
Nevertheless, you don't get to understand biophysics without background in both. Not relevant in the context of an IDesigner who is not constrained by patterns that appear in biological studies related to evolution.
The battle is over keeping science classrooms scientific.
Really? What evidence do you have to support this assertion?
What happened in Kansas the last time.
"During most of the 20th century, probably the most contentious issue in science teaching has been whether evolution is taught or not taught in U.S. public school classrooms. The latest major dispute in this long-running battle was the Kansas State Board of Education's 1999 decision to delete evolution from the state's science standards. This event received widespread coverage in the press and sparked an outcry in the science community. In addition, most of the public was not happy with the decision; 60 percent of Americans were opposed to the school board's action. Moreover, most Kansans also felt the same way. Thus, it was not too surprising when two board members who had voted for the change were defeated in the next election by candidates who supported the teaching of evolution. Subsequently, the reconstituted Kansas School Board reversed the decision.
So again, You push it you lose
You can talk about the Godless Northeast all you want, but the fact is it's the West that's the least religious part of the country with Colorado & Nevada with a very high population of non-religious people. Ohio & Florida have high Catholic populations, Catholics seemed to have learned from that whole Galileo mess and are less anti-science as the Fundamentalist.
According to the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life
-- 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
So if your own children aren't buying what you are selling why do you think the rest of the country will?
and finally history,
Whenever religion butts head with science religion will always lose in the end though not without extreme damage done by Christians.
Geocentricism, the smallpox vaccine, lightning rods were all opposed by fundamentalist but science won out. The same will happen with evolution. Even if you get your way and eliminate evolution in America, the study & uses evolution will go on, we will just lose out to the rest of the world.
Certainly not the exit polling from the last election where neither evolution nor intelligent design placed on issues concerning Americans.
And lets keep that way
Of course, moral values did place, right at the top of the list. And lo and behold guess what happened? Yup, you got it, the Republicans extended their majorities all across the nation.
Rejecting science, forfeiting our technical superiority to the Chinese & Indians and moving back to the dark ages is considered a moral value????
This is a fundamentally incorrect characterization of evolution.
In other words, you have ZERO, none, nada, zip data to support your assertion. You could have saved yourself some time by just admitting that.
So... why are anti-IDers so awfully upset? If all the ID research is dead-end, anti-Iders would have less competition for investment money and ID would die out.
Checking data does not appear to be your strong point.
I'm not on the evolution ping list.
And you are the one with problems as to where consciousness resides.
Oh, come on. Your analogy is absolutely bogus.
The way an omnimax god can create a human is completely different from the way humans make another human being (I assume here you meant the old fashioned way). Additionally an omnimax deity knows the future in every little detail, whereas we do not.
So let's change the analogy a bit: this "father" doesn't make his kid the old fashioned way (with the help of a woman) but he assembles him atom by atom, molecule by molecule because he's a man with extraordinary capabilities.
Now, not only can this guy make a child from scratch, he also knows every little detail about the future of this kid, i.e. he knows the consequences of every change he makes to the design.
For instance he can see that changing certain parameters will make his son decline a friends offer to take cocaine whereas tweaking other parameters will change his future in such a way that he never meets this person.
So let's further assume that this father sees how the current makeup of his son will have the consequence of him shooting his family when he's 38 years 8 months and 11 days old but nevertheless decides to not make any further changes.
Now is the death of these people the father's fault (who could have made some more changes to his son's design) or is it the fault of the son?
But, I'd guess that biophysicists are not merely people who have a double major in physics and biology. They are people who cultivate the interaction (cross-pollination?) of the fields.
Oh really? The following is also in my son's College Biology textbook.
"An evolution Theme More Pervasive than Ever ... And as the one central theme that unifies all of biology by accounting for both the unity and diversity of life, evolution is woven into the fabric of every chapter of our book."
There you go. Liberalism, evolution and U.N. style political correctness in one tidy package inside students' Biology textbooks.
The macro and micro terms are indeed real and germane to the debate over evolution being taught in Biology classes because the terms themselves are being taught. They also allow the discussion to get to the core debate which is macro evolution and not quibbling over whether birds' beaks have evolved.
"The battle is over keeping science classrooms scientific."
Very interesting- Okay. Then why don't we give students a choice (yes,choice, liberals are familiar with that word aren't they?) of opting for a class in intelligent design, rather than the scientific science class, and given equal credits toward graduation for it?
These classes are entirely voluntary options of course, decided by the student and their parents, the state will be making no laws respecting establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free excercise there of-merely resting a students right to choose.
Respecting a students right to choose.
ID is basically the claim that objective evidence (observations, probability calculations etc.) indicates that the universe (and life) is designed. How is that a crackpot idea?
The proposition that 'design' can objectively be detected is mathematically implausible. The 'probability calculations' presented to discredit evolution are entirely and transparently specious. Moreover, according to the modern founders of the 'design' movement, ID is not as you say; ID is a pretext to get the Christian deity into academic discourse and into the classroom. Philip Johnson has explicitly said so.
Nice, meaty post, a rarity.
I had forotten the smallpox issue.
You might add anaesthesia for childbirth. Talk about going against Genesis for the literalists.
There was also the "Doctrine of Signatures" which said that if one could spot a resemblance between a plant part and a body part, God had provided that plant to be used to cure diseases of the relevant part.
Fine. Of course, these won't be science credits.
You can get credits in basketweaving; while that's a little more useful than ID, I'd be prepared to stretch a point.
In the News/Activism forum, on a thread titled How Intelligent Design Hurts Conservatives (By making us look like crackpots), Just mythoughts wrote:
"PLEASE, liberals are evolution, godless."
Factually incorrect. Many libs are obtrusively religious (Quaker "peace activists" are thick on the ground at vigils and protests). And nobody has ever explained to me how evolution by natural selection is inherently Godless.
You're falling into exactly the trap the article describes: by mistakenly conflating evolutionary science with Godlessness you make yourself look like a slope-browed Neanderthal religious fanatic.
That's suprising like the view moderate Muslims have on the Jihadists.
Because once ID is what is taught, and believed, virtually -all- research in biology grinds to a halt since every currently unanswered question becomes answered by "the designer did it"
No, it's not cross pollination. Scan a biophysics text.
It's got pretty broad appeal because for once, science is dealing with reality instead of stating things about "it takes millions of years" when they have lost all hope of proving something happened. ID notes that information doesn't arise out of nothing by random chance. It looks at the complex information system of the book that is DNA. And DNA is not merely a single book, every person has their own version of the book with specific information for how that person was and is constructed. If that weren't enough, the reproductive system and the body's internal systems both use the DNA information and act on it intelligently. It's awkward enough to note that DNA holds information - worse yet, another system of the body actually understands it and has information of it's own on how to process the DNA information. And if that weren't bad enough for the evos, the human cell is a miniature factory floor that carries out complex operations on the DNA to produce things required by the body and detailed within the DNA. What's more, the entire engaged process involved is irreducibly complex. Just as with the little 40 part engine that is the tail/motor of a type of bacteria and which will not function without all it's 40 parts... irreducibly complex. Remove one part and none of it works and none of the parts individually provides any advantage to the system.
ID pulls the wool off of people's eyes re natural selection - which ID embraces. Selection works within the range allowed by the DNA and the systems of the body that iterpret the DNA. It's like quality control on the floor of the GM/Delphi plant my mother used to work at. No amount of quality control applied in selecting radios from the plant to fit into GM cars would ever turn those radios into microwave ovens. Selection works to gaurd against error so that what is produced works within it's defines. Selection is intended to ensure quality of the radio. It doesn't turn the radio into a microwave and never will. The ID crowd understands such matters of obviety and common sense. They also understand that, with some, common sense and matters that are obvious to the regular joe aren't so obvious to people with really high IQ's who think they're smarter than everyone else and more wise than us all. We are all, afterall, foolish to them for imagining that quality control should actually be - er, quality control. Or as one famous debator these guys hate would say, All common dogs have a distant common ancestor - it was a dog. Uncommon common sense is moronic to evos.
So why is ID dumb? Simple, Evos work from the same playbook that the liberals have long played from. Nobody is buying it anymore. And the advent of work from the ID front which has now been used to explain the fossilized forests of yellowstone (if memory serves) based on studies of the aftermath of St. Helens, etc.. has given ID more and more credibility. ID has something on it's side that Evolution has been lacking - results. And that is more dangerous to the Evos than anything else.
Most of us like choices, that's why restaurants have menus and colleges have electives.
The schools can teach all the intelligent design they like, in an elective class and not in a required science class.
In my humble opinion , it is a stretch to the breaking point to give science credits for studies in evolution and I am sure that credits for basket weaving classes would benefit the student of science fiction , more, as well. But choice, has, been hailed as the acme of human progress, for the past thirty years and now we of anywhere to the right of the extreme left, are claiming our own right to choice.
The ID advocates aren't interested in the mechanisms of evolution per se. They are interested in discrediting the methods and findings of science itself, as they pertain to casting doubt on the literal historical accuracy of Genesis.
Uh, how do you want to detect design if you don't even have a model of the designer?
I understand that. What I am unable to understand is why the fairy tale of evolution is taught in what is strangely defined as a required science class.
Your hermeneutics are disasterous (as if that matters to you). At least make an effort to put this verse in context. He was referring to His messianic claim being challenged by a skeptical ruling class. To insinuate that the Lord Jesus Christ was saying anything at all supportive of the evolution argument is defamatory and scurrilous. You must be utterly vile to make such a suggestion.
Right. The ID movement is a mask.
And of course they can teach devil worship, scientology, properties of spirits.
In the religion department, not in the science department.