Mike Kueber's Blog

June 24, 2011

Creationism and intelligent design

While driving back from North Dakota, I continually switched from listening to talk radio and CDs of the book American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips.  As I previously blogged, the former warned that cultural liberals were causing America to become a secular state while the latter cautioned that the Religious Right was producing scientifically backward country.  As an example of backward science, Phillips referred to intelligent design, which he said was a Christian attempt to provide a scientific alternative to those who refused to accept the science of evolution.

Coincidentally, shortly after hearing from Phillips on this topic, I heard talk-show host Sean Hannity being challenged by a listener who wondered how someone as intelligent as Sean could believe in God.  Sean responded by giving a heartfelt explanation that relied heavily on the concept of intelligent design – i.e., certain features of the universe and living things, such as irreducible complexity and specified complexity, are best explained by an intelligent cause, not by an undirected process such as natural selection.

The listener didn’t accept this explanation, but before he could put forward follow-up questions, Sean disconnected the call.  My follow-up question would have been how Sean’s explanation supports his view that Christianity is the only true religion.

Upon returning to San Antonio, I decided to research the issue of intelligent design to determine if the positions of Kevin Phillips and Sean Hannity are in conflict, and I concluded that they are not.

The term “intelligent design” has been used since 1847, but the concept came to the forefront in 1987 when the US Supreme Court held in Edwards v. Aguillard that a state couldn’t require the teaching of “creation science” as an alternative to evolution science.  The Court came to
this holding after reviewing supportive amicus briefs from 72 Nobel prize-winning scientists, 17 state academies of science, and 7 other scientific
organizations that described creation science as essentially consisting of religious tenets.  Therefore, requiring that creation science be taught as an alternative to evolution was a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

In response to the Aguillard decision, Christian groups decided to push the “science” of intelligent design, but in 2007 in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District a federal district court held that requiring the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution was infirmed
for the same reason creation science was – i.e., it violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

Based on these legal decisions, it appears that Kevin is correct in declaring that intelligent design is not science, but rather is a thinly-veiled effort of Christians to challenge the science of evolution.  But evolution is not inconsistent with Sean’s belief in intelligent design.  Teaching of the belief, however, should be reserved for religious instruction, not public schools.

4 Comments »

  1. This is important not as just a hallmark in the social wars, but because 80% of the last fifty years in progress in the biological sciences is informed by–and predicated upon–evolution.

    Genetics, biochemistry, immunology, and even epidemiology and gross anatomy derive the vast majority of their insights from an understanding of the ways that evolution have shaped us (and other animals). Science relating to the effective ways that we may intervene in disease or infectious processes, or that tissue growth and regeneration work don’t even make sense without understanding our evolutionary path.

    So this continual attack on teaching evolution in school is not merely a lifestyle issue about whose view of God gets to predominate in our public schools. Evolution is so fundamental to an understanding of who we are, how we work, and how we came to be, that to ignore it is to reject a vast swath of the fruits of the last century’s science and learning.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 24, 2011 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  2. Evolution: The Creation Myth of Our Culture
    by David Buckna [June 26, 2011]

    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth01.asp
    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth02.asp
    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth03.asp
    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth04.asp

    Phillip Johnson says naturalists define words like “evolution” and “science” in such a way that naturalism is true by definition. He said in World magazine: “Evolutionary science is based on naturalism and draws philosophical conclusions to that base. That’s why any theistic evolution is inherently superficial. It leads people into naturalistic thinking, and they don’t realize it.” (Nov. 22, 1997, p.13)

    Then there is McLean v Arkansas, 1981, in which U.S. District Court Judge William Overton ruled in 1982:

    “The conclusion that creation science has no scientific merit or educational value as science has legal significance in light of the Court’s previous conclusion that creation science has, as one major effect, the advancement of religion….Since creation science is not science, the conclusion is inescapable that the only real effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion.”

    Eleven years later, Michael Ruse, professor of zoology and philosophy of science at the University of Guelph (Ontario) spoke at the 1993 annual AAAS meeting in Boston. Tom Woodward writes in “Ruse Gives Away the Store”: http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/ruse.html

    [quote]

    Assuring his audience, “I’m no less of an evolutionist now than I ever was,” Ruse nevertheless explained that he had given fresh consideration to Johnson’s thesis that Ruse himself, as “an evolutionist, is metaphysically based at some level just as much as . . . some creationist. . . . I must confess, in the ten years since I . . . appeared in the Creationism Trial in Arkansas . . . I’ve been coming to this kind of position myself.”

    Ruse was referring to McLean v. Arkansas, in which Federal Judge William Overton ruled that Arkansas’ “Balanced Treatment Act” was unconstitutional. At the trial, Ruse had testified that creation-science is not science at all. Invoking the fact/faith dichotomy, Ruse claimed that Darwinism was scientific because establishing its validity required no philosophical assumptions. All other views, he claimed, required such assumptions and were therefore unscientific. His testimony became the centerpiece of Judge Overton’s ruling.
    ***
    To read the full transcript of the speech by Ruse, go to: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/arn/orpages/or151/mr93tran.htm

    Comment by David — July 4, 2011 @ 2:53 am | Reply

  3. I have to say that I do not understand the concept of allowing Christians to be thrown under the bus. It seems to me that these petty arguments over symbolic gestures like crosses on government land and the word God on money exasperates the people.

    Why is it that people are trying to tear down Christianity and eradicate their rights from the world. You know it is the only group that gets hit so hard, if I were to comment on the atrocities committed by Jewish leaders in say Palestine (or anywhere through out time) I would be discounted because I was obviously “anti-Semitic”. If I said anything about Muslims I would be a racist, white Christian with arrogant American views!

    I really wish that all of these people who write this crap would get out of their little suburban homes and take a chance by living modestly in a third world country for say… a couple years. Set out to somewhere that you know no one and try to strike up a life. Then come back and write. It would be a wake up call for sure!

    Just in case you were wondering… They outnumber us and they hate everyone who is not them!

    About me… I am white (FUN Fact… the evil white man makes up roughly 6% of the worlds population. So that would make us the minority right?)

    I struggle with organized religion, and I am a christian. I do not go to church because I have yet to find one that was incorruptible.

    I wish we could have the pledge of allegiance back in the schools, why couldn’t we just revert the pledge back to the original form that had no mention of God. Is it bad to pledge allegiance to “We the People?” Now it seems that we only pledge allegiance to ME the People, how has that worked so far?

    I hate to say this but after living for four years in SE Asia I truly believe that until recently America was the best country in the world, maybe we still are, but if we continue in this direction we will lose that.

    I think that we as Americans have become lazy, uneducated, materialistic idiots who have lost sight of family values. The concept of making it OK to do drugs and have sex like rabid dogs in the street (ok it may be fun) while pissing on the ten commandments has not helped anything. However the thought of closing our minds and blindly following someone with a bible, just because he is holding a bible, is crazy to.

    In short I believe that the path to truth is through hard work and faith, I mean faith in anything… doesn’t have to be God. I don’t see a lot of hope for a planet that takes the peaceful messages of profits and twists them into messages of hate that inspire terrorism.

    What religion is that, pick one they have all been manipulated the same.

    It is my opinion that the answer lies in the middle. Look at the right wing and left wing, none of those people give a damn about anything other than their constituents… and that is not you and me. (Unless of course you have donated millions to a Super PAC)

    What a shame because every year we elect another one to represent us in our capitols and Washington.

    One final thought! By taking the names that they proudly wear like a badge of honer, Right and Left, now add that life lesson…

    “The truth always lies somewhere in the middle”

    … I find it hard to imagine that either party is the answer for the American People.

    Just saying!

    Kevin Phillips – My name is just a coincidence

    Comment by Kevin Phillips — April 22, 2012 @ 4:04 am | Reply

    • Kevin,

      Although I see white people often thrown under the bus for all that is wrong with the world, I don’t see the same sort of criticism of Christianity. Yes, the secular crowd wants a strict separation of church and state, but that is not the same thing as being thrown under the bus. I will, however, concede that there sometimes is some affirmative action in favor of minority religions. But religion should be able to thrive and flourish in America without the benefit of government sponsorship. In other words, if religion in America needs the government to help it flourish, that doesn’t say much for the long-term survivability of religion in America.

      Comment by Mike Kueber — April 22, 2012 @ 4:40 am | Reply


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