Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pulliam's Predictable Defense of Intelligent Design

When the Christian right is under attack for attempting to impose their fundamentalist religious beliefs on the rest of us through public policy enactments, such as their recent announced intent to mandate the teaching of intelligent design in our public schools, it can count on the Indianapolis Star’s Russ Pulliam to rush to their defense. And that’s what he does in his column today, “Poking holes in evolution.”

To begin with, Pulliam argues that Darwin’s theory of evolution goes beyond science “into matters of philosophy and science.” According to Pulliam, “That is why some Indiana Republican lawmakers are working on legislation to require equal time in the classroom for the intelligent design theory of origins along with evolutionary theory . . . Republicans are on the right track in calling for an end to a monopoly for evolutionary theory in teaching on origins.” Pulliam asserts that the theory of evolution requires “big leaps of faith” . . . that can’t be observed or tested in the lab.”

Pulliam then goes on to explain that intelligent design is really not “creationism”, which assumes a young Earth and a worldwide flood according to Pulliam. Intelligent design Pulliam assures us “makes more modest claims, that the creation of life came from an intelligent cause.” Advocates of evolution Pulliam tells us “are hardly neutral in [philosophical and theological] matters . . .”

While evolutionist scientists have their differences, all scientists accept it as legitimate scientific theory. Contrary to Pulliam’s assertion, evolution is a model of the world from which “falsifiable hypothesis” can be generated and tested through controlled experiments, or be verified through empirical observation. It is a near- universally accepted scientific theory explaining the origins of all species on Earth.

In sharp contrast, the scientific community does not accept creationism as a scientific theory. It should be observed at the outset that some modern religions accept evolution, while still believing in divine creation. Creation science begins with the desired answer and attempts to interpret all evidence to fit in with this predetermined conclusion. Pure science works by using a scientific method to formulate theories and predictions based on solid evidence, as is the case with the theory of evolution.

Pulliam's attempt to distinguish intelligent design from creationism is completely disingenuous. The reality is that there are varying views of creationism depending upon one’s particular religious beliefs. The fact is that intelligent design is nothing more than a creationist pseudoscience intended to reintroduce Biblical teachings on the origins of man based upon fundamentalist Christian beliefs. The National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Center for Science Education and the biological science field in general all agree that intelligent design is not based on any accepted scientific theory.

The intelligent design movement was hatched entirely within the Christian right community and touted for the purpose of defeating the “materialist world view” it believes is represented by evolution. Ironically, the movement has become just another money-making tool for Christian right’s “non-profit” groups to further enrich their coffers and to provide exorbitant lifestyles for their “moralistic” leaders.

Pulliam is right about one thing. The intelligent design movement in Indiana will find support in the Democrat Party as well as the Republican Party. To be sure, he cites support from Rep. Peggy Welch (D-Bloomington), who said: “There is plenty of evidence of evidence that evolution is theory, and yet it is taught as fact . . . Why is there only one way of thinking taught.” A sad product of our dismal public schools could help explain Welch’s shaky reasoning. It is also further evidence of just how far we still have to go to remake Indiana’s image as something other than a backwater, hill-jack state it is today with this kind of thinking dominating our state’s public policy debates.

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