2005-11-16

Intelligent Design And Education

I've been thinking about the intelligent design debate lately, and have come to some rather unorthodox conclusions. This debate has gone on long enough, a quick scanning of Google News reveals a plethora (6,640 to be exact) articles on this controversial topic. It seems the debate is no longer about the core issue of whether it should be in the curriculum, but on wether it is anti-scientific. This aspect of the debate ignores an important fact about school structure, they are not only about the sciences.

Following this line of reasoning I see no reason why it should not be taught in schools. But, the caveat that ID-ists will hate will be, it should not be taught in science classes, nor along site Darwin's darling evolution. They should be taught along side the softer, more socially oriented aspects of school. It is a belief that certain people have, and it seems (from the general huff) to be a rather prevalent belief, and thus it should be taught as such, for reasons of awareness. And like all things taught in this softer area of school (Social Studies), interpretation of the ideas will be left up to the student, and his or her parents.

This seems a good compromise, in that no one would be denying the validity of this belief. And it would allow acceptance based on individual.

Now I know some will ask why not just teach it in science classes, it is a "theory" after all, just like evolution. This, sadly, is not true, it is using a different definition of the term.

Theory in the scientific sense of the term relates to a method of gathering, and interpreting data from the real word, the term is deeply tied with empirical evidence, logical deduction, and induction. It also implies a coherent web of other theories, data points, and findings, tied together by logical analysis. For more information read up on the philosophy of science. Scientific theories also rely heavily on the idea of justification. Science also is a self correcting entity, its theories are rejected for not meating the facts.

Theory in the intelligent design sense is more colloquial, it means, simply, and explanation of current observations. We can see how this misses the rigor and coherence of a scientific theory. Basically, in its weakest form, it goes: "Life is really complicated! Wow, it couldn't have done that on its own!" Which is a weak justification. Sometimes it also says "Man, those evolution people don't know everything, and admit it, that means we might be right!". Which is true, in a weak sense, in that science approaches truth by nature, but cannot ever claim it, thanks to the nature of induction, it just gets more and more justified (100% certainty is always impossible). But the fact remains that it is a stronger version of truth (from the empirical frame of reference, which defines science by nature) than faith, or non-empirical supposition, even strong logic, thanks to the hypothetico-deductive method.

So, as we can see, the word theory has been misused here, and we should find a way to differentiate from the ID use of the word, and the philosophical/scientific sense of the word.

There also is the fact that science works on logical principles, meaning that its statements are propositions, and propositions have truth values by definition, you can falsify them. Even false propositions have a truth value, meaning they can be proven as such. ID is a principally theological or religious statement, which does not have a possible truth value, in that it is unprovable by definition. A creator, who is all powerful, who did not want us to know his existence, is just as tenable as no creator, neither statement is provable. They are, to be blunt, nonsense. This follows the classical reasoning of Anthony Flew, our proof of these nonsense statements depend on our (according to H.R. Hare) blik, or frame of reference, whereas logic is free from reference, and is universal, according to "The Last Word (Philosophical Essays)" (Thomas Nagel).

I'm getting rather long here, so my last, and social, point will be rather short. ID is a view of religion, or faith, and thus is not something that anyone has the right to push on children as fact. Science teachers are the authorities of empirical and logical fact, where clergy and parents are the distributors of religious and faith-based fact. Even if you claim that ID is a religiously neutral statement, it still is a question of religiosity, and if we were to be honest, we would see that it is a predominately Christian cause, in the U.S. at least. The Designer is taken to be God, in reality, and not in argument. No one has the right to push their religion on others.

As a brief, and closing, tangent, one of the tenets of medieval to current Christianity was the doctrine of free will, I assume that this would stretch so far as my free will to be ignorant of so called truth, and by nature doom myself to hell. Pushing your religion on others is attempting to violate my urge to damnation. This you are not being a good religious person.

At that note, I conclude. This was wordier than it should have been. But if this doesn't get a decent, and deep, conversation going, nothing will.

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2 comments:

Jennifer Christini said...

While it is irrelevant to me personally if the term "theory" is applicable to creationism, but it is rather important if it to be taught in schools as theory or fact or at all for that matter. The old argument is of course that religion has no place in public schools, which, as cliche as it may be, is essentially what I believe to be the best argument against teaching creationism in schools. If it is taught in private schools, more power to them, but it really has no place in federally funded schools. If those in the religious community could provide difinitive evidence of creationism, then let them, and therefore let it be taught. But until that time comes, I see not how it has a place in science courses, or public schools at all.

Ivy Hutchison said...

Religion is taught is schools though in the form of 'cultural awareness.' I feel that if they want to teach this idea in school it should be taught in such a class as World Religions, World Cultures, or some other culturally minded class.

Intelligent Design IS NOT science and never will be science. So it most definitely should not be taught as science in school. It should be taught in a course alongside other creation and origin of the universe questions.

That's my opinion.

I agree with Andy, religion should not be forced on people. Though this idea was not Christian in nature it has been hijacked by Christians. Thus it has become identified as a Christian concept. So it should not be required learning.