Intelligent Design Yet Again

A cynical curmudgeon named Ben Stein has been making the rounds of talk shows, promoting a soon-to-be-released movie.
(http://expelledthemovie.com/)

Judging from the trailer for the movie, it will be yet another rehash of Intelligent Design. The trailer shows a teacher at a chalkboard, talking to his class about evolution. Stein, at the rear of the class, interrupts to ask how life could arise from inanimate matter.

The teacher acts caught out. He mumbles and stutters. He says they have gone over this time and again. Stein responds that the teacher never answers the question. He brings up the possibility of ID, and the other students all nod approvingly.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that several hypotheses about the origin of life are presently being scientifically explored. (See, e.g., http://tinyurl.com/z2ylv.) Stein’s notion of ID demonstrates once again a fallacy that constantly shows up in ID claims. In fact, this fallacy has been pointed out so frequently that it has acquired a title: God of the Gaps.

Religion loves a mystery, meaning anything currently unexplainable. Theistic people can then “explain” the unknown by positing a god or gods who make it all happen.

An excellent article, “The Last Gasp for the God of the Gaps” by Greg Perkins is still available: (http://tinyurl.com/5ox38o)

When you already “know” — throughRevelaton — that God exists and created everything, you can safely ridicule any scientific teaching that contradicts your “knowledge.”

Stein, and ID proponents generally, already “know” how life got started; how the universe itself got started. God did it, and they “don’ need no steenking” scientific theories.

The focus of the ID movement is to ridicule the theory of evolution, which, they are correct in fearing, gives the lie to the notion of “creation ex nihilo.” The deeper purpose of ID is to more firmly embed religion into politics so that education and legislation will reflect the religionists’ views of the world and morality.

Of course, Stein’s movie is bent on deriding any idea of a universe with no God to make it go, so the focus (in the trailer) is the humiliation of the teacher who can’t answer it.

–Ken

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Intelligent Design in the Classroom

Following his coverage of the court decision in the case of the Pennsylvania school district that had decided to teach Intelligent Design (ID), Harry Binswanger said, “By virtue of the thoroughness of Judge Jones in laying bare the real meaning of ID and the inherent dishonesty of its attempt to pose as science and critical thinking (which he calls “a sham”), the ID movement may never recover.”

In reason, the decision seems a death blow to the ID movement, all right. In the anti-reason of ID’s proponents, however, the Judge’s exposure of the meaning of ID means only that they have lost again this time. The movement will go on in the hope that next time they will find the set of words that will allow them to sneak religion into the classroom.

Born-again columnist Chuck Colson was disappointed by the judge’s ruling, but not “disheartened” and certainly undeterred.

Colson cited Judge Jones’ ruling that the “claimed secular purpose for including ID in the curriculum — improving science education –” was “‘a pretext for the Board’s real purpose’: to promote religion in the public school classroom.” Of the ruling, Colson said, “Now I strongly disagree, but this tells us what has to be done in other cases if we are going to succeed.

He pointed to another part of the Judge’s ruling: “By way of anticipating the reaction to the ruling, Jones emphasized that he wasn’t saying the intelligent design concept shouldn’t be studied and discussed . . . And this is the key: In Kansas and other jurisdictions, the teaching is permitted, not mandated. Always seek an open forum, so all sides can be discussed, and science compared to science.”

So, Colson’s advice to ID supporters: don’t make it so obvious that we are trying to get religion into the classroom. Try to get ID discussed as one of the “sides” in an “open forum” where we can claim it as a scientific alternative to evolution. He does not clarify what he means by “open forum;” presumably it’s wider than simply inviting court action as happened in Pennsylvania.

Colson’s conclusion, directed at his religionist fans: “‘How can I be an optimist,’ you ask, ‘in the face of yesterday’s decision?’ Because I know that if we equip ourselves and do our job, truth will out. We should not despair. Our case is compelling if we frame it carefully, ask the right questions, and expose the claims of Darwinists.” This is an admission that the whole purpose of the ID form of creationism is to destroy scientific evolutionary theory so that faith can be reinstated.

He ends with a suggestion that the faithful call him at BreakPoint, “so we can tell you how to get your hands on material that will equip you well to make a case-a case that is strong and will withstand constitutional challenge.”

–Ken

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