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.
Wow, are you saying WildTurkey is the Devil?
I said the doctrine that God is the author of evil comes straight from the Devil.
I never said all who repeat this accusation are "the Devil".
Well, just d@mn! You do have some real insight, don't you?
Appearances are not deceiving! ;^)
We are in agreement, but even with stem cell research I doubt that there would be much political ramification short of an outright ban. I just don't think people are gonna get that worked up over the federal government inadequately funding a particular type of research when they perceive that other sources of funding will compensate just fine. An outright ban even on private research would be a whole 'nother matter altogether, and that would raise a great hue and cry.
hmmm. God decides to create the BTK and knows all the evil and harm the BTK will cause to innocent people but God goes ahead and creates him all the while knowing exactly what he will do. If the BTK had free will to do otherwise, then God must not know what he will do. Therefore, either God knows and there is no free will OR God does not know.
You should listen to yourself - you think that is reasoned discourse? Just more invective, hand waving and psychobabble.
Again, nothing substantive.
let me repeat myself:
But drop me a note when you have something meaningful to say, just spare me the hectoring, please. It does not have the effect on of me that you evidently are looking for.
It is just nettlesome, I doubt that you could insult me.
Oh, an inclusive, "plural" use of the English pronoun "You" is quite acceptable, as you should well know. My meaning is clearly stated by my phrase:
Really, you evos and IDers.
You are just proving my point about how "you people" (perhaps you would prefer "Youse guys") with all of these attacks on anyone that disagrees with "you"in any form whatsoever. "You" may chose not to believe me, but "the public" finds this irksome. But go ahead, perhaps they will find "you" as impressive as you find "yourselves." (Note the plural usage here.)
You know, if you actually worked in an real, professional scientific institution and tried this tactic, you would get fired.
But then you would not know about that, now would you? (now here I mean it in the singular)
There is a correlation between age and your observation but I'm fighting it with every ounce of my strength. :-}
Yep, ain't that the truth. Thus the attraction of stem cells. :) Keep hope alive.
What an infantile response
According to this warped logic someone could go out and commit murder and then tell God it is REALLY His fault because He created them in the first place.
They frequently do.
Only a totally wicked ingrate would abuse the gift of life God gives them to commit evil and then turn around and blame God for it.
Remember, that 'wicked ingrate' is one of God's creations
Well a Hell it must be believing your Creator is an evil sadist. I'll pray for you.
How about praying for the future victims of the next BTK?
I hope you will come to realize the Lord is merciful and loves you and wants to forgive you.
The Lord is merciful? Tell that to the victims of the BTK.
Doesn't get any more left wing than this beauty of a statement. Individual responsibility doesn't do it for ya, eh Turkey? You screw up, you blame God. If that doesn't work you blame the government. And if all else fails you blame your baby sister.
A heads up for you. There is a lady in Vermont whose son was killed in Iraq. She has had it up to the gills with Mrs. Sheehan and her fellow travelers and is gonna start demanding "equal time". You heard it here first.
When you begin statements with "do you really think" then you are attributing what follows to me, not to some abstract community of evolutionists in general. The answer is: no, I don't really think that, and never did, so go find someone who does and argue with them.
Then you compound that with this supercilious, condescending tactic of proclaiming that you don't really care about the discussion anyhow, so what does it really matter what the other person says in reply, because it's no big deal anyhow, and you weren't even talking to them anyway. You lump me in with some imagined community, attack me obliquely, and then expect me to either humor your tactics or just 'suffer' the attacks, even while declaring that it doesn't matter what I say anyhow.
But, as I always say, every problem has a solution! Check out the bottom of my profile page. Toodles!
They frequently do.
Ok. So you subscribe to the God hating rational of the criminal mind?
Is that why you are here promoting their viewpoint?
What did God ever do to you to deserve this kind if contempt?
Hey, I'm a social conservative firmly routed in Ludditism, Beaver Cleaverism and apple pie. If 15 will get you 20 what will being attracted to a day old stem cell get ya?
There was a special on the battle of Falujia (sp) on Fox News I think, and the father, Mr. Blacksmith, of one fallen hero, a second lieutenant leading his men shot threw the heart by a bullet that sneaked under his flack jacket, who had everything going for him, looks, charisma, intelligence, athletic prowess, wealth (the parents lived in what appeared to be a mansion in a very tony zip code of SoCal, gave a very moving testament to the fact of the selfless intelligence of most parents of the fallen. They lost their only son, and were devastated, but knew it was not all about them. It was about so much more. The father exuded great dignity and wisdom as he spoke through his pain, palpable pain that just poured out of the screen. Ah yes, I cried.
You appear to be lost in your own enjoyment of a snide state that is quite pleasant for you. Carry on.
You are a bully.
Scratch the surface of the ID movement and you are the kind of person who espouses it.
You are a bully who loves the sound of your own voice, you preen in your vanity.
I assumed you were a woman by the way.
You don't need to be sorry.
I don't think geezers should live forever. We need to get out of the way in good and timely order. Thus a stem cell for me is of drastically less interest than that rare and confused nubile curvaceous women who gives me a smile. But that is just me.
Well, I do think if I had Parkinsonism or some other dreadful disease and I had a lot of life in me yet to live, I might look kindly on a stem cell.
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