Saturday, March 14, 2009

40 Days of Lent: Day Eighteen

Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

I just finished watching the NOVA program Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (entire program is available, in ten minute segments, here). The documentary is about the trial that resulted when members of the Dover, PA school board tried to have Intelligent Design included in science classes. Oh, Pennsylvania, my home state, you never disappoint.

Granted, I am a little biased, but what amazes me is the disingenuousness of those on the pro-intelligent design side. Even when all they propose is a small disclaimer to be read before teaching evolution ("this is not the only theory about life on Earth..."), they act as if they have no agenda and what they're doing is actually for the benefit of the students. Not surprising that two of them committed perjury during the trial.

My thought has always been that you should be able to teach intelligent design in schools, just not during science class because it is not a science. In fact, it is anti-science. As one lady states in the program "The fundamental problem with intelligent design is that you can't use it to explain the natural world. It's essentially a negative argument. It says, "Evolution doesn't work, therefore the designer did it. Evolution doesn't work, therefore we win by default....You can't build a science on a negative argument." It makes as much sense to teach during science as it would to teach it in math or gym class. So teach it when you teach Greek or Roman myths (do they still teach Greek and Roman mythology in schools?) Intelligent design has more in common with literature than it does with science.

This point was made better, and with more wit than I can manage, during the trial:

WITOLD "VIC" WALCZAK: So supernatural causation is not considered part of science?

KENNETH R. MILLER: Yeah. I hesitate to beg the patience of the Court with this, but being a Boston Red Sox fan, I can't resist it. One might say, for example, that the reason the Boston Red Sox were able to come back from three games down against the New York Yankees was because God was tired of George Steinbrenner and wanted to see the Red Sox win. In my part of the country, you'd be surprised how many people think that's a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened last year. And you know what? It could be true, but it certainly wouldn't be science. It's not scientific, and it's certainly not something we can test.

One more comment: it took the judge a month to come up with his verdict?


Iva said...

I watched the show, too. Now, here is my question: is intelligent design completely incompatible with evolution? Is it not possible that there is a supreme intelligence behind the whole process of evolution?
I realize my Judeo-Christian roots are very evident, but I am asking the question in all sincerity. Are these ideas completely incompatible?

Iva said...

It (intelligent design) should not be taught as science and I do realize that was the whole point of the show.
But my original question still remains.

Carol said...

Haha, Iva, I asked John that same question in 5th grade and was resoundingly mocked. Let's see if he's kinder to you.

John -- does Pennsylvania never disappoint? or does it ALWAYS disappoint???