Time To Hit The Holy Books: Evolution And Intelligent Design In The Classroom

1386 words - 6 pages

It would be an understatement to claim that the realms of faith and reason rarely conflict. Since the earliest days of scientific inquiry, these two spheres of thought have been locked in a vicious battle, only letting up as religion has gradually modernized to accommodate newer understandings of the universe. But, as is the nature of any age-old debate, the fires fueling this conflict have once again been fed, this time with the controversy surrounding the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools. The proponents of this alternative “theory” to the origins of life claim that they have been silenced by the Darwinian establishment and support integrating their ideas into the classroom through such means as textbook disclaimers or expressions of doubt as to evolution’s legitimacy. However, this issue is not the suppression of scientific innovation which supporters of ID claim it to be, but only a dismissal of an inherently religious pseudoscientific idea with no concrete evidence to scrutinize. This is not an issue of teaching the controversy, but teaching the facts.
What exactly is Intelligent Design? Anyone with a subscription to cable television is probably aware of the role that this topic plays in the political climate of the day. With the recent resurgence of religious fundamentalism and the ever-present conflict between faith and reason, it’s no wonder that an idea so attractive to those in the Religious Right would be receiving so much attention and so much support for implementation into public schools. But what are the arguments supporting this alternative “theory,” and what is it about it that gets the Darwinists so riled up? Are our nation’s students not getting the whole truth? Are biologists such as Richard Dawkins merely hanging onto an unsustainable faith in the scientific status quo, or are they trying to hide some incredible and enlightening fact from the masses? The answer is quite apparent, but it is crucial to first understand the arguments given by those on each side of the debate before commenting on the issue of education.
For one, consider what many proponents of ID call “The Watchmaker Analogy.” Developed by Christian apologist and philosopher William Paley, the Watchmaker Analogy argues that just like “the watch found on the heath,” the intricate biological structures and functions found in organisms are proof in themselves of an intelligent designer. This would be an end-all argument for somebody living in the world around 500 years ago, where the breadth of scientific knowledge was not nearly as expansive as what we know today. In a world where “God did it” was considered an acceptable explanation for natural phenomena such as lightning, the rising and setting of the sun, and disease, the average person would be quickly convinced as to the validity of Intelligent Design. However, what Paley fails to recognize (mostly because science has advanced further than where it was in the 18th century, when Paley was...

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