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How Intelligent Design Hurts Conservatives (By making us look like crackpots)
The New Republic ^ | 8/16/05 | Ross Douthat

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.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: creationism; crevolist; education; evolution; hesaidcrackhehheh; immaturetitle; intelligentdesign; politics; science
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To: DaveTesla

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.

501 posted on 08/19/2005 12:45:24 AM PDT by b9
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To: cajungirl
"And I do not think there is leftist indoctrination of engineering and science students."

Where you been hiding?

Gee, were the founders Tali ban too?
Next up is Goodwin's law right?
Go ahead pull the cornerstone out from under our society.

Don't be surprised if the whole building falls on you.

I see you are reverting to the Tali ban name calling
which means you can not have a civil discourse with
out insults.
I wont be returning the favor.

Good night.
502 posted on 08/19/2005 12:52:53 AM PDT by DaveTesla (You can fool some of the people some of the time......)
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To: doodlelady
So how come public school children are not free from the cultural Marxist religion?

Perhaps instead of tearing down the president's picture
and bringing in GLESEN and the rest of the occult they
don't just teach them to read.?
What no equal time?

Good night.
503 posted on 08/19/2005 12:57:32 AM PDT by DaveTesla (You can fool some of the people some of the time......)
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To: DaveTesla

You're free to start your own school.

504 posted on 08/19/2005 1:00:03 AM PDT by b9
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To: DaveTesla

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.

505 posted on 08/19/2005 1:47:41 AM PDT by cajungirl (no)
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To: aft_lizard; plain talk
"Bologney, I have had arguments with died in the wool pony tail wearing dirty frock and pocket protecting evcolutionist who speak of micro and macro evolution as evidence in evolution. Hell doing a google of micro evolution brings up 4.2 million hits, an awful lot for making things up."

"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.

506 posted on 08/19/2005 3:12:02 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: MizSterious
And how ignorant you will appear in a few years. Most of the scientific community is actually moving toward intelligent design, by that or several other names which mean the same thing.

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.

507 posted on 08/19/2005 3:12:57 AM PDT by youthgonewild
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To: doodlelady
It means no such thing at all. That is merely a play on words and has no part in a serious discussion.

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.

508 posted on 08/19/2005 3:18:00 AM PDT by CasearianDaoist
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To: DaveTesla

Exactly so no predictability then no design right? Pretty straight forward and clear.

509 posted on 08/19/2005 3:20:19 AM PDT by JNL
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To: curiosity
Politics do make strange bedfellows.....Social conservatives and Fiscal conservatives have provided a powerful voting block.....

I tend to gravitate toward aspects of both with a little Libertarianism thrown in to satiate my anarchistic side. But not ID or Creationism....please people think...its right there in the fossil record....tangible evidence...don't let yourself be ruled by the archaic scribblings of the desert wandering, sandal wearing, Bronze age goat herders (or perhaps fishermen).
510 posted on 08/19/2005 3:37:53 AM PDT by Vaquero (An armed society is a polite society.......Heinlein)
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To: Dimensio; Friend of thunder

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...

511 posted on 08/19/2005 4:07:29 AM PDT by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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To: Just mythoughts
talking about the sottish children!

Kids should not drink hard spirits.

512 posted on 08/19/2005 4:17:16 AM PDT by humblegunner (If you're gonna die, die with your boots on.)
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To: curiosity; Dimensio; WildTurkey

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?

513 posted on 08/19/2005 4:31:50 AM PDT by visually_augmented (I was blind, but now I see)
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Fundamentally, evolution relies on the hypothesis that all life forms (or certainly most life forms) trend to higher complexity placemarker.
514 posted on 08/19/2005 4:42:15 AM PDT by Thatcherite (Conservative and Biblical Literalist are not synonymous)
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To: curiosity

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.

515 posted on 08/19/2005 4:54:56 AM PDT by mlc9852
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To: humblegunner

"Kids should not drink hard spirits."

True or they would become "sottish" word means stupid.

516 posted on 08/19/2005 5:21:24 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Dimensio

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.

517 posted on 08/19/2005 5:51:33 AM PDT by F.J. Mitchell (If John Roberts is unfit for this Supreme Court,-this Supreme Court is unfit for the USA.)
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To: syriacus

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.

518 posted on 08/19/2005 5:53:24 AM PDT by From many - one.
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To: balrog666

Talk about living proof.

519 posted on 08/19/2005 5:57:28 AM PDT by F.J. Mitchell (If John Roberts is unfit for this Supreme Court,-this Supreme Court is unfit for the USA.)
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To: syriacus

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.

520 posted on 08/19/2005 5:59:07 AM PDT by From many - one.
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