Democratic Underground

Setting the Bar Higher

October 22, 2005
By Tom Fairlie

Thereís a storm on the horizon of our school districts, and its name isnít Katrina or Rita, but Intelligent Design ("ID" for short). As you read this, the ID tempest is raging across ill-informed parts of the country, taking in misguided school boards and spitting out undereducated youngsters. I doubt duct tape will stop this perfect storm, but a little bit of smarts and a small dose of common sense will work wonders.

So what exactly is ID? In a nutshell, itís either a bold attempt to re-insert creationism into high school science classesóan accusation that ID proponents vehemently denyóor itís an equally transparent attempt to dumb down our nationís science curriculum. Either way, this is a traffic accident waiting to happen. Should we opt to make high school biology classes into a lesson in the supernatural, or should we instead let a bunch of underperformers dismantle decades of scientific progress simply because they were kept out of honors science classes when they were teenagers? Itís like picking the door with the tiger behind it, or the door with the other tiger behind it.

To be fair, ID has a lofty, pseudo-scientific purpose. In fact, its propaganda is so laden with scientific mumbo jumbo that most citizens will tune out before they hear the punch line. What the ID'ers are trying to get across, naturally, is that Darwinís theory of evolution falls short of explaining every last detail about us human beings. Thus, instead of following any kind of scientifically sound process to refine or refute Darwinís workóyou know, the kind of intelligent analysis that we simple humans have been using for centuriesóthe ID crowd has instead come to the conclusion that the whole problem space is just too darned complex and that Darwinís theory is too blasted simple. Huh?

To put it another way, we humans must be so terribly intricate that Darwin must have been crazy to think he could sum it all up in a single, 19th-century book. And here is where the ID crowd goes over the edge. Their solution to this conundrum is to step back, throw up their arms, and plainly declare that something must have designed usósomething intelligent! Of course, you already know whodunitóitís God, of course! Whew, Iím glad thatís over. Close your textbooks children. Take out your prayer books. Turn to page 23 and begin singing the "College Entrance Exam" hymn.

If you think this is a cheap shot at religion, youíre wrong. This is actually a cheap shot at people who think that faith alone will get us to the finish line. Faith never invented life-saving drugs, electrical appliances, automobiles, computers, the Internet, or even the telephone that you call your mother with on Motherís Day. Those were all invented, developed, and improved upon by people who took an interest in science and who didnít let the unknown scare them from peering into it. Perhaps faith helped them along their illustrious roads, and perhaps God was the most important part of their lives. However, they never traded their faith for hard work, creativity, and hitting the books. There may be no substitute for God, but thereís no substitute for studying and getting good grades either. If you donít trust me, just ask a teacher.

So how do we avoid the damage from the ID typhoon? It's quite simple, actually, and you donít have to be a science whiz to figure it out. Letís leave the science classroom alone. Science works best if it follows the principles that have been guiding it since ancient Greece. Letís not presume to know the answer before the question has even been fully written. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds in history, once quipped that he was convinced that God does not throw dice. If youíre like me, isnít it much more satisfying to think of God as the ultimate architect of the universe rather than someone who has a crib sheet up his sleeve? To me, ID represents the latter approach.

Vist Tom Fairlie's website at

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