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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Teaching Intelligent Design Opens Minds

[Please forgive the length of this post. It is our intent at Boots On to articulate the conservative argument for political issues. The following is intended to summarize the argument for including Intelligent Design in the classroom.]

There is a growing movement across the nation to teach the theory of Intelligent Design in the classroom. The intent is not as a substitute for the Theory of Evolution, but rather as a compliment. If we are truly interested in providing our future generations – including our future scientists – with a well rounded education, it is imperative that our school curriculum includes critical analysis of both theories. Here’s why:

Worldwide, the theory of Intelligent Design and the Theory of Evolution are the two prominent theories about the origin of life. Both are widely accepted. Both are difficult to prove. And, both require elements of faith to accept. As we prepare our students to take on the world, it is only fitting that we equip them with the understanding of both concepts – complete with supporting evidence and critical reviews.

If you must, consider this a form of diversity awareness. To be adequately prepared for adulthood in a world of diverse peoples, there is a decided benefit in understanding the two theories that are accepted by most cultures worldwide.

A Darwin-only curriculum frames young minds into thinking that everything complex must have originated from something simple. It closes the mind against alternative analysis. Holes in the Theory of Evolution are not presented as contradictions, but rather as “missing-links” waiting to be discovered. In doing so, the young minds of future scientists are being molded to accept on faith that such missing-links will be found. They are taught that the only possible influence of change is the organism’s interaction with its surroundings. Evolution is therefore presented as fact and the stage is set to give legitimacy only to future scientific discoveries that fit the theory – and to reject such discoveries that do not.

Omitting Intelligent Design advances the misconception that science is in conflict with Judeo-Christian beliefs. With continued assault on the Pledge of Allegiance and on the First Amendment, a handful of activists are eagerly trying to cleanse government-run schools from any reference to God. Undoubtedly, the same force would seek to support a Darwin-only curriculum for fear that adding Intelligent Design would be endorsing a religion. But, the contrary is more likely. By excluding Intelligent Design, the government would be endorsing the religion of Atheism and the misconception that scientific study is the antithesis of Judeo-Christian teachings.

Consider this to be another form of diversity awareness – that is, diversity of thought. Faith-minded individuals should not be discouraged from careers in the sciences. Including Intelligent Design in the curriculum seeks to dismiss the perception that religious faith is in conflict with scientific study.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is the Atheistic view that seeks to limit scientific understanding. The devout Atheistic is at a disadvantage for he must approach scientific exploration with the presumption that God does not exist. The exploration of our origin must therefore exclude Intelligent Design as a possibility. Instead of analyzing the evidence for its own merit and following it wherever it leads, the Atheist often seeks to prove Darwin and disprove the existence of God. All study of the origin of life is therefore bounded by the notion that the complex must have somehow originated from the simple.

Teaching Intelligent Design opens the mind to other possibilities. Scientists willing to accept the possibility that change was prompted by a force beyond nature are more open to following evidence wherever it leads. If it leads to proof of macro-evolution, one could conclude that if God is powerful enough to create the world in 6 days, He could also do so over millions of years using evolution as a tool. Even the agnostic scientist can be open to the concept that forces not readily comprehendible could have played a role in our beginnings.

Powers that be in the scientific community have demonstrated a bias toward proving Darwin that has squelched the advancement of human understanding. The Theory of Evolution is just that – a theory. It is incomplete for there are not only gaps in our ability to prove it, but there is also growing evidence that contradicts it. Unfortunately, those who make such discoveries encounter significant roadblocks in efforts to gain peer review and to further their own exploration.

The scientific community at large summarily dismisses evidence that doesn’t fit the Darwin mold and shuns scientists who seek to explore it. Science is better served by unleashing future scientists who are more open to exploring evidence and less devoted to proving Darwin.

Future scientists will be challenged by the holes in the Theory of Evolution. Scientific exploration is served best when the scientist is free to explore discoveries unbounded by predisposed expectations. It is important that evidence supporting evolution be offered along side evidence that disputes it. A curriculum that includes Intelligent Design not only suggests that other factors difficult to comprehend may be present, but also promises to further explore the critical review of the Theory of Evolution. To illustrate how this can affect the debate over evolution, consider the following analysis of mutation.

Evolutionary Leaps of Faith in Mutation

The Theory of Evolution includes two-parts: – micro-evolution and macro evolution. Micro-evolution describes the process of change that a given species undergoes when influenced by its environment. Macro-evolution takes this process one step further by describing how a given species can mutate into a new, more complex species. However, it is the dependency upon mutation that weakens the case for evolution the most. To explore this, first consider the micro-evolutionary process that mosquitoes might undergo when subjected to a given pesticide.

Spray a field with a pesticide known to affect most mosquitoes and in short order one could appear to wipe out the population. But, there will be a few who do survive -- those who are not susceptible to the pesticide. In a few seasons they reproduce until their numbers equate the original population. The pesticide becomes ineffective in controlling the population and it is then mistakenly concluded that mutation has made the mosquito stronger.

In truth, only those mosquitoes immune to the pesticide survived. The mosquito itself did not change. Nor did it develop immunity to the pesticide. The immunity was always there in the smaller numbers of mosquitoes within the original population. While the population of mosquitoes evolved into a collectively stronger population, the species itself lost something -- it lost those mosquitoes that were susceptible to the original pesticide.

Note that “stronger” is relative. The mosquitoes that died could well have been immune to the next generation of pesticides designed to kill the “stronger mosquito”.

At the root of macro-evolution is Darwin’s theory that one relatively simple organism can mutate into another more complex organism. But, this idea poses more questions.

Consider the development of the human eye which consists of a cornea, a lens, a retina, and an optic nerve. All of these elements must work well together for the brain to receive an image. Critics of evolution suggest that it would be nothing short of a miracle for each of these elements to spontaneously evolve such that they all work together. If evolution is affected by the environment such that only those mutations that benefit a species are propagated, there is no reason for these elements of the eye to evolve independently.

The development of a lens for focusing an image is useless without a retina that captures it – and both are useless without an optic nerve to send the information to the brain. These elements could not develop independently for none of them, in isolation, provides an added benefit for the survival of the species.

However, advocates for evolution claim that there is evidence that the human eye evolved from photosensitive spots into highly sophisticated optical instruments. They claim that there are numerous species that represent the various stages of this evolution. Since different species with different levels of optic sophistication exist, it is then presumed that the more sophisticated species evolved from the less sophisticated species. Those intricate little steps in between are then assumed to have been taken by mutation.

It is with the process of mutation where this evolutionary theory falls apart. Darwin assumed that a simple organism could mutate into a more complex organism. But, we have learned far more about mutation since Darwin's day. Mutation subtracts information from the genetic code, it does not add it. Scientific study in mutation itself has been unable to prove that mutation from the simple to the complex is possible. In contrast, it has demonstrated that mutation from the complex to the simple is common. If evolution played a role in the development of the eye, it is more likely that the human eye came first -- then “evolved” into photosensitive spots.

One could argue that Intelligent Design is easy to teach since it fills the gap of human understanding with a simple explanation -- God did it that way. It could be construed to suggest that God used evolution as a tool to design each species – and that the eye was indeed a miraculous example of His work. But, Intelligent Design offers more than this. It offers a freedom of scientific exploration not readily found within a scientific community that is arrogantly bent on disproving the existence of God.

For science itself to evolve, it is important that we accept our shortcomings in current understanding. By adding Intelligent Design to the curriculum, there is hope that future scientist will approach scientific exploration with greater objectivity.

[For an enlightening critical review of the Theory of Evolution, get the book “The Case Against Darwin" by James Perloff. At 70 pages, it is a very easy read and great Christmas gift. Encourage your school district to include this book as required reading. Perloff is also the author of the far more comprehensive book "Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism".]


Blogger John said...

The most intelligent thing about Intelligent Design is the marketing campaign behind it. Like most of the literature espousing this new poppycock, this post has so many holes in it that it would take hours just to list all the things that are wrong with it. So, I'll just say one thing, for brevity's sake. The Theory of Evolution is a real, bona-fide, scientific theory. Now, some people aren't clear what that word means to the scientific world, theory. Well, for one thing, it means that it is an idea the scientific community can test. And guess what? They've been testing it for over one hundred years, some of them religious people (contrary to popular belief, plenty of scientists are Christians), and no one has disproved it. Again, in case you didn't know, that makes it a good theory. Something that has enough evidence in support of it that we feel that it should be taught in schools. Now, Intelligent Design is a theory. Sure. But it's one with no empirical evidence to back it up. It's not the other side. It's more of, say, an idea. After there have been years of testing, a pile of empirical evidence in support of it, then, maybe, it gets taught to our kids. Otherwise, they look like dufuses, see.

10/25/2005 9:56 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

Intelligent Design is “new poppycock”??

John, I am compelled to correct your assertions that the Theory of Evolution has been “tested” for over hundred years and that no one has been able to disprove it.

The Theory of Evolution has been studied for a hundred years such that discoveries are hypothesized to fit the puzzle that Darwin imagined. But, this is a far cry from “testing”. That’s just it with the Theory of Evolution – we know of no way to prove it through testing. That is, we have been unable to test the process of evolution. Specifically, we have been unable to prove through testing that a simple organism can mutate into a complex one.

Examining discoveries that appear to represent different stages may further refine the hypothesis, but it does not constitute “testing”. The process that causes the leap from one stage to the next is still in question.

There are a growing number of scientists who have indeed “disproved” key elements upon which the Theory of Evolution is based. In the interest of understanding the science, I again recommend “The Case Against Darwin” by James Perloff – one of the “disprovers”.

As for the essence of my post, I still contend that re-introducing the theory of Intelligent Design will serve to open minds toward the science of origin. Your assertion that Intelligent Design is “new” and your apparent lack of knowledge regarding the science disputing evolution serves to prove my point – we need to open minds by expanding the curriculum in our classrooms.

10/25/2005 11:22 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

John is apparently confusing Intelligent Design with Creationism. While Creationism is primarily a matter of faith, Intelligent Design has at least as much, if not more, empirical evidence to back it up as Evolution.

Consider, for example, the number of complex creations made by man (biomedical devices, computers, mechanical systems, etc.). These are clearly of an "intelligent design" that did not (and could not) happen randomly. In many cases the underlying design has come from emulating concepts found in nature. In other words, if the design of many man-made things can be considered intelligent and, since much of these designs have been inspired from nature, isn't there a reasonable possibility or probably that the nature has its origin in an intelligent design? Look at how man-made creations have evolved (e.g. automobiles of today versus those of 100 years ago). Could it possibly be that the process of evolution itself is a natural offshoot of an intelligent design, much like well thought out software is now designed to be modified to keep it useful well beyond its original functionality?

Brian Fahling, a trial attorney for The American Family Association presents a well thought-out analysis of this at http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/9/292005gst.asp .

10/25/2005 11:26 PM  
Blogger zip_000 said...

Your last comment I think shows that even you don't really believe in intelligent design.

"Could it possibly be that the process of evolution itself is a natural offshoot of an intelligent design"

Yes, of course. The Theory of Evolution does not say a thing about what happened before life, or what started the whole thing; I think everyone knows that. Could Evolution have been started by a deity of some sort - sure, though I personally feel that there is no need for there to have been one.

Evolution does not preclude religion or faith, but "intelligent design" does preclude rationality - it is virtually scienceless. It's a huge step backwards to medieval superstition. It's shameful.

10/26/2005 10:01 AM  
Anonymous rrd said...

Stating that “intellignet design does preclude rationality” is a bias, not an argument. Please state why it precludes rationality. You are only proving G-Man’s point that there is no understanding or diversity of thought in this debate. To simply say “you’re wrong” is not a good debate point.

10/26/2005 10:35 AM  
Blogger zip_000 said...

I got involved in this discussion on a whim, and I regret it. I know that people believe all sorts of absurd things and that I can do nothing to help them get over them...

Intelligent design precludes rationality because it assumes something to be true that is irrational. If you start with the assumption that there is a god - which is irrational (I'm not saying it's wrong or bad, just irrational) - then any theory that comes out of that is irrational.

And I steadfastly believe that the irrational should not be taught in science classes. Intelligent design is not science, it is anti-science.

10/26/2005 5:19 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

Science is best served by those with open minds. By shunning the science behind Intelligent Design, our current government-run school system has done science a disservice. It has produced a generation or two who are wholly ignorant to the theories and evidence behind it – and to the evidence disputing evolution.

Perhaps more disappointing is that our public education system may have fostered a gap in the ability to apply of logic. For one to argue that Intelligent Design is irrational and therefore not science, one must also concede that evolution – the ability of one species to accidentally mutate into something more complex – is also irrational and therefore not science.

Given that science has been unable to prove that the simple can mutate into the complex, I am boggled why so many are adamant that evolution has been proven and that Intelligent Design is nonsense. Of course, there may be two explanations: 1) Those who are so adamant toward evolution may not have been exposed to anything else, including contradictory evidence. 2) They may be Atheists blinded by their faith and unwilling to accept the possibility that some form of intelligence influenced the design of life. Both of these further support my premise that including Intelligent Design in the classroom serves to open minds.

John and James, thank you for your contributions in proving the point of my post.

10/26/2005 6:39 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

James's assertion that Intelligent Design is virtually scienceless is disputed by several scientists. One of them was this guy named Albert Einstein...

See The World As I See It- An Essay by Albert Einstein

10/26/2005 10:04 PM  
Blogger UberKuh said...

No, we do not know everything there is to know about evolution. Name one branch of science where this is true. You cannot. So, you cannot conclude that because evolution has unknowns, they open its empirical foundation up to doubt. And you certainly cannot conclude that such doubt can be filled with a religious or otherwise equally unknown teleological driver. As everyone with a brain keeps saying, ID proves nothing, is not science in any conceivable form, and is nothing more than the latest marketing ploy by the religious right. The ID movement boils down to a few wealthy backers and their few "scientists" along with a gullible and newly hopeful flock of worshippers. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Karl Rove was behind all this.

10/26/2005 10:55 PM  
Anonymous John said...

[John originally posted the following on 11-18-2005. It has been edited by G-Man for language – albeit mild. It is our commitment at Boots On that its content be suitable for all ages.]

It's not unthinkable that Rovey kickstarted the I.D. storm, Uberkuh, though I believe it's unlikely. Though nobody even bothers to dispute anymore that the "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" was his brain-child, so I suppose there are few depths he's incapable of plumbing.
Which he might ought to consider as a new profession. Plumbing, I mean. Pretty good market for someone looking for a job.

11/21/2005 11:18 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

John, Karl Rove is responsible for the outing of John Kerry’s Vietnam and post Vietnam record by 200 Swift Boat vets who actually served their full tours in country?!? I can’t tell if this was an attempt at humor or more Rove-mania nonsense. Maybe Rove directed Katrina toward New Orleans too.

11/21/2005 11:34 PM  

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