27 January 2008

Texas Higher Education and Creation Research, Part 16

I missed this editorial in the Austin American-Statesman last week. I feel a little weird picking on a couple of points in an editorial that I agree with so much:
The other is the recent request by the Institute for Creation Research, a proponent of "intelligent design" to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, for certification to grant graduate degrees in science education in Texas.
If there is one thing I respect about the Institute for Creation Research, they don't advocate intelligent design. Intelligent design does not specify who or what hypothetical "designer" might be -- only that a designer is somehow involved in the living systems we see.

ICR, to its credit, does not play this game. ICR is not coy about what they are: they are fundamentalist Christians who believe the Bible is literally true. They advocate creationism, not intelligent design. They don't pussyfoot around that there might be a "designer," they say flat out, "Life is creation of God."

Back to the editorial:
"Intelligent design" is a belief and is not subject to testing or validation; thus, it has no place in our educational system.
I have to disagree here again. I think intelligent design could be totally valid to talk about intelligent design in a class on religion or perhaps politics or in several other areas. (That said, I don't know if K-12 public schools can teach classes on religion.) Little statements like this can really make it seem like like scientific organizations really are trying to keep all religious ideas out of all arenas.

There's also a more recent piece in the Houston Chronicle that talks about prospects for a "meeting of minds" on evolution.
With clergy members and scientists banding together to proclaim that their fields have much to teach us about the world, with both demonstrating they can work collaboratively, there's now hope we can put the divisiveness that's been the hallmark of this struggle behind us.
I cannot be optimistic here.

Conflict is the essence of drama. So there is always a good story about those who disagree with majority views. This is partly how small minorities can very easily get a disproportionate amount of attention: they make for good copy.

Intelligent design is an excellent example. It was promoted incredibly successfully by a few individuals. (Pure creationism, as I noted above, is a different beast, not the least of which is that it is undoubtedly supported by a much bigger group of people.) I've seen a lot of "God versus Darwin" headlines, and with good reason. Conflict is interesting.

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