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.
Do your own legwork. References are there is you want to find them. Looking might open your mind a little, in fact.
We do, and looking at the redundant kludged together trash that we can already see in DNA, we know that only a halfwit godling could have designed that.
I believe in God.
I believe that if God had designed life, rather than letting it happen at random, he would have done a much better job.
I do not believe in an incompetent God.
You are wrong. ID says the laws of physics are insufficient to govern the world. Science has not found that to be the case, even in the very least. The proponents of ID are charlitan preachers, not scientists.
Darwin himself considered evolution to be opposed to Christianity and the Bible;
"I had gradually come by this time (i.e. 1836 to 1839) to see the Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rain-bow as a sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian....
....Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true."
Stop waiting---it's been done.
The ultimate promise of bioscience is perfect health in perpetual youth. Even if it's not overtly acknowledged, that is always whispering just beneath the surface. You don't think "the public" will care about that??
Oh yeah this is good for conservatism, another smartass with half a loaf making stupid statements to support fallacious claims. ID'rs for the most part do not seek to replace the ToE with ID, most accept evolution small e as fact. For this author to misunderstand this renders him incapable of opining on what is or isn't good for "conservatives".
His implying that opposing the state ordered death of Teri Schiavo and opposing spending school time discussing the different methods of putting a prophylactic on a banana somehow plays into the hands of the lunatic left is itself lunacy.
"ID as it is typically presented has no religious overtones, though you'll usually find that those pushing it are trying to secretly push a religious agenda."
And what kind of agenda are the evos pushing????
No, actually they are not. The only difference is that the ID'ers are getting more press since they have organized and started making noises like scientists (despite the absolute non-scientific nature of ID).
Yeah, just skip Genesis and anything else you don't agree with.
The terms "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution" are pure inventions of the creationists. No such distinction exists in science. There is ONLY "evolution".
That's not the sense in which the term "intelligent design" is commonly used today, unfortunately. It has come to mean the assertion that life cannot have evolved in through Darwinian processes, and further, that this can be scientifically demonstrated.
Which is really a shame, because it is perfectly reasonable to hold to a philosophical view that the universe was intelligently designed, that all its laws and constants were set "just right" so as to allow for the volution of man. There's nothing in this view offensive to modern science. Now, however, thanks to crackpots like Behe, there is really no good label for this perfectly respectable philosophical view.
If they think that, they are ignorant of both theology and science.
ID and creationism are worse theology than they are science.
Not at all. Genesis is one of the richest books in the Bible, and no, it does not conflict with evolution.
The problem is the MSM only shows the crackpots. They will NEVER show the reasoned person who says "god did it this way" or "this is how nature works but the hand of god is there somewhere."
They will only show the wacko who says the BAAAAAHBLE said creation was a week ago tuesday and there never were dinosaaaaaauze.
If it was not evolution, the left would use the abnormal fact that conservatives believe in monogamy, they would use as abnormal that conservatives believe in democracy and are against communism. They just need a whipping post for conservatives.
So where is Noah's nuclear powered ship?
Give it up . . . the rabid Darwinists - liberal or "conservative" - will always fight any idea that could mean man is not the center of the universe and end-all-be-all of our big-bang/primodial-soup-generated existence.
God forgive us.
He's also not alone. Many other conservatives are against this intelligent design nonsense. George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, even the President's sceince advisor.