‘Ideology deludes, inspires dishonesty, and breeds fanaticism. Facts, experience, and logic are much better at leading you to truth. Truth, however, is not everyone’s intended destination.” These are the observations of Daniel J. Flynn in his 2004 book “Intellectual Morons.”
Is his quote applicable to the intelligent design versus natural selection debate? I think it is. The December decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones in Dover Pennsylvania that Intelligent Design (ID) is not a scientifically based theory only confuses this debate and does not bring us closer to truth, assuming that is the goal.
Litigation, and not the laboratory, is simply an easy short-term way to prohibit opposition to the status quo. Only courageous and confident adherents to any theory allow ongoing debate in the search for truth. What we have with this debate are two science-based views (ID and Evolution) and one theological-based view (Creationism). Many school boards across the country will confront this issue in 2006 as the two camps entrench themselves in ideological fortresses at the expense of the scientific process, the traditional way to reveal what is true, what is probable, what is unknown and what cannot be known.
This debate would be better served and make more sense if we let the wonderful and time-tested method of the scientific process expose valid and erroneous contentions in all theories. Proper application of the scientific method allows data to be formed into a hypothesis that is validated or invalidated by deduction, induction and experimentation. A hypothesis is peer reviewed and debated under the shared goal of finding a truth or model that explains our reality.
The debate of origins and life development should not be framed as science versus religion or reason versus faith. The tools of science and the scientific process of peer review and testing should be freely engaged to debate the merits of either theory and all theories. However, most traditional evolutionists are nervous about this as the burden of proof is on them and over the last 150 years of evolutionary passion there is scant evidence for “macro-evolution,” or one species becoming another. Darwinian evolutionists have acted mostly as religious zealots and did not reinforce their theory by letting the scientific process work. Rather, they chose the cowardly way of shutting the doors to academia, classrooms, and the media to those offering credible dissent to their worldview.
The true scandal of this misdirected debate is the ongoing indoctrination of false science in many high school and college textbooks. So many evolutionary icons (Haeckel’s Embryos, Peppered Moths, Darwins Tree of Life, Piltdown Man, etc.) have been proven a fraud or false. Where is the science in perpetuating a lie? All scientists should take a stand against false ideas regardless of their support of a particular theory.
I agree with the many who say teaching faith as science undermines the very idea of science. Too much scientific knowledge has historically been impeded by special interest groups applying a “survival of the fittest” mindset on what is fact or fiction, new evidence or probabilities be damned.
History is loaded with examples of incumbent powerful organizations or bureaucracies, such as school boards, that try and often do suppress any new idea, theory or evidence that undermines the dominant group’s monopoly.
The Tennessee school board suppression of John T. Scopes’ teaching of evolution in the 1920s is perhaps the most notable example. Though the state ruled in support of the school board, they were wrong in preventing Scopes from teaching evolution, a theory gaining popularity.
The present controversy of whether intelligent design should be taught in public school science classrooms along with evolution is an example of an interest group adhering to rigid dogma to maintain an idea monopoly and preserve the status quo. The monopolists in this case are the macro-evolutionists who fear the crumbling of their Darwinian worldview.
If the evidence is growing that the rise and development of life is unlikely to have occurredd by the long-taught evolutionary engines of natural selection and random mutations, the career work of numerous researchers, professors and scientists is discredited. The same self-preservation was evidenced by the church authorities in Galileo’s time and just as wrong.
We would all benefit if the debate of origins was fairly presented and the scientific process always respected. Imagine how stimulated students would be if allowed to use all evidence at their disposal (historical, mathematical, probability, scientific, microbiology, experimentation) to test the validity of creationism, intelligent design, micro-evolution, macro-evolution, natural selection, and other hypotheses and theories.
If in 40 years, ID has been discredited as a valid theory for origins through the scientific process or reasoned objective debate, so be it. Perhaps the opposite will be the case: Evolution as traditionally taught may be exposed as the longest-running adult fairy tale in modern history.
If worldview prejudice could be put aside, true education may occur and the various theories of origins and life development would stand or fall on their own evidence, in the science classroom, without being defensively propped up by exclusionary autocratic dogma.
GORDON S. CRUICKSHANK
President of the Property Companies