Thursday, August 11, 2005

Can't Have Evolution and Your God Too!

Slate's Jacob Weisberg puts his balls to the wall and says what every rational person should think regarding Bush's statement concerning public schools teaching intelligent design "theory."
President Bush used to be content to revel in his own ignorance. Now he wants to share it with America's schoolchildren.

I refer to his recent comments in favor of teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution. "Both sides ought to be properly taught … so people can understand what the debate is about," Bush told a group of Texas newspaper reporters who interviewed him on Aug. 1. "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought."

The president seems to view the conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design as something like the debate over Social Security reform. But this is not a disagreement with two reasonable points of view, let alone two equally valid ones. Intelligent design, which asserts that gaps in evolutionary science prove God must have had a role in creation, may be—as Bob Wright argues—creationism in camouflage. OBut whatever it represents, intelligent design is a faith-based theory with no scientific validity or credibility.
And as Weisburg notes, President Bush saying ID should be taught beside evolution is a lot like him saying "that the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that smoking doesn't cause lung cancer."

The only reason this nonsense persists with the President in tow is because America is a deeply religious nation (at least self-professed) and cannot handle that the human race is the product of an excruciatingly long process of "random mutation and natural selection." As a child in Catholic school I was taught God was so caring and so involved in my life that he counted every hair on my head. I agree this was consoling for me as a child, but now that I'm older I know that it is utterly preposterous. It's akin to believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. In essence, it's a comforting myth we use to wall ourselves from the fact that we are mere flesh and someday we will die and never return. And it is because of this, that the American public flees from evolution. For if they did recognize evolution's preeminence over creationism or ID, then God whithers into nothing as does the afterlife. As Weisburg explains:
[T]he acceptance of evolution diminishes religious belief in aggregate for a simple reason: It provides a better answer to the question of how we got here than religion does. Not a different answer, a better answer: more plausible, more logical, and supported by an enormous body of evidence. Post-Darwinian evolutionary theory, which can explain the emergence of the first bacteria, doesn't even leave much room for a deist God whose minimal role might have been to flick the first switch
The more people begin to accept this view, the less reason we will have to deny gay people their basic civil rights in marriage or stop scientists from pursuing stem-cell research or place barriers between young students and the solid science background needed if we want to remain a progressive, technologically savvy country beneficent to every citizen.