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Australia Education Government Politics Science

Australian Schools To Teach Intelligent Design 714

Posted by samzenpus
from the ragnarok-101 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears that schools within the Australian state of Queensland are going to be required to teach Intelligent Design as part of their Ancient History studies. While it is gratifying to note that it isn't being taught in science classes (since it most certainly isn't a science), one wonders what role a modern controversy can possibly serve within a subject dedicated to a period of history which occurred hundreds of years before Darwin proposed his groundbreaking theory?"
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Australian Schools To Teach Intelligent Design

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  • Which VERSION? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:58AM (#32420344) Homepage Journal

    There are at LEAST 6 different versions of this:
    1. Biblical Creationism- the world is 6000 years old (maybe 7000 now) and was created in 7 days.
    2. Darwinian evolution- life was created in stages by natural selection.
    3. Intelligent Design Engineer/Scientist- Life was created in stages by an engineer-diety using natural selection as an engineering process to an intended end.
    4. Intelligent Design Parenthood- God gave birth to the first DNA as an offspring and only interferes as a kindly parent guiding, but not influencing, the end result. God doesn't know the future in this version.
    5. Quantum Mechanical Atheistic Evolution- Natural selection is entirely unguided and random- the only thing limiting evolution is death of bad mutations.
    6. Intelligent Design Creationism- a bad quasi-scientific cover for Biblical Creationism.

    And that's not even going into NON-CHRISTIAN myths, I'd expect in Australia they should at least be teaching the myths of the natives in an ancient history class!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:01PM (#32420376)

    How are we going to determine that? Why can't we apply archeological principles to biology? Thats exactly what ID is.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:02PM (#32420402) Journal

    You're talking about Of Pandas and People [wikipedia.org], the infamous Creationist textbook which was rewritten via search and replace after Edwards v Aguillard [wikipedia.org] banned the teaching of Creationism in public schools. The phrase was cdesign proponentsists, from an imperfect search and replace of "Creationists" to "design proponents" in one of the post-Ewards v Aguillard drafts.

    It was that, coupled with the fact that the Dover Schoolboard were a bunch of incredibly inept liars (one even claiming an Oxycontin addiction to explain his clearly deceptive behavior) who perjured themselves multiple times during the Dover trial, that pretty much tossed it out of the water. The best bits were Michael Behe's time on the stand (William Dembski was too smart a fox to get involved), where his claims of irreducible complexity of bacterial flagellum were wiped out by article after article in the literature showing precisely how such a system could in fact evolve without intervention.

  • by qortra (591818) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:03PM (#32420412)

    If you want to teach it as a disproved theory, I got no problem.

    Bad grammar aside, that isn't a good idea either. It isn't a disproved theory - it can neither be proved nor disproved in any scientifically valid sense. That's why it isn't science in the first place.

    If they are indeed teaching intelligent design in much the same way as ... motivation for slavery then I have little problem with this.

    This should earn you a flamebait mod. Once again, it isn't proper to say that it is wrong or right, to condemn it or glorify it. It is apart of history - it merely needs to be acknowledged so the students can form their own judgments.

    They are arguing that this helps critical thinking and allows the child to make their own conclusions ... but curiously this "critical thinking" that presents an opposing view is curiously the view that the localized religion adheres to

    Of course it is. Starting with viewpoints that students are at least familiar with is the best way to get a good dialog started. College professors use this same tactic all the time. You need to engage students, and talking about ancient historical viewpoints that they have no familiarity with will not get them talking.

    This article bounces between acceptable and a BS facade to market Intelligent Design. Australia's a sovereign nation but I will speak up if this comes anywhere near my public schools.

    Perhaps you dislike the particular implementation of this subject matter into their curriculum. However, you have to admit that any ancient history curriculum that fails to discuss religion is profoundly flawed. They are an extremely important part of our history and even of our current world sociopolitical makeup.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:09PM (#32420486) Journal

    They are arguing that this helps critical thinking and allows the child to make their own conclusions ... but curiously this "critical thinking" that presents an opposing view is curiously the view that the localized religion adheres to. If you want to teach critical thinking, expose the child to more views than what the adults are already largely marketing to them in the home and at religious services.

    Yes. Oh God Yes (pun intended).

    I went to a Catholic School growing, though here in Canada that doesn't mean a whole lot. Since there is such an unbelievable mix of culture, you get kids who are Half-Christian Half-Buddhist, or Catholic Jews, or just about any combo you can think of. Even people who weren't exactly Catholic could get in, there were kids who didn't have catholic parents, but said they weren't sure what they believed in, and were able to go.

    In my High school year, one of the big projects was to research a religion you had little to no knowledge about, in small groups, and then present it to the class.

    I think it was one of the most educational lessons I've ever recieved from High school. Not only do you see the differences between Eastern and Western Religions, but also why certain ones spark conflict, and the histories of how they've interacted.

    I think most of all, it was interesting to hear a Jewish peer's view on Catholicism and Christianity as a whole, as well as a Buddhist and Hindu. Likewise, they found our explanations of their religions also valuable. I mean its easy to look at a hasidic jew and criticize their way of life, only to have someone point out how your holidays have evolved into some corporate spend-a-thon, since Santa Claus has nothing to do with Christ.

    I dunno, it was kind of like taking a step back and seeing the big picture for once, and I wish more schools did this (and I hope mine still does)

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:12PM (#32420514) Journal
    They taught intelligent design in my school. A lot. In social studies class, or current affairs. Along with evolution. In fact they did it much more in those classes than they did in an actual science class. The actual science class discussion, when it came around, was like one day. It is amazing to me the amount of political effort that goes in to a single day of class. Especially when the kids all have their mind made up about the topic by that point anyway.

    Seriously, why is this still an issue 150 years later? Why do people feel that evolution needs to conflict with religion, and not say, geology?
  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:17PM (#32420584)
    In an academic setting, the correct place for ID is as a case study during a course on critical thinking.
  • by qortra (591818) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:18PM (#32420588)

    It's not even a disproved theory.

    That much is right. By its nature, it would be basically impossible to prove or disprove.

    The whole thing is a scam, and one that has lost considerable force since Dover.

    I'm sorry to break up your rant here, but it isn't a scam. Many people sincerely believe in ID (or a variation thereof). Many of those people would acknowledge that it isn't science in any meaningful form, and nearly all of those people would willingly keep ID out of the science curriculum in public schools.

    However, it seems to me ancient history is a perfectly fine place to present the fact that people have believed in ID historically. While ID in its current form is a fairly modern interpretation, the notion of an intelligent designer has been around for quite a while, and has had a profound influence on our world (for better or for worse).

  • by bill_kress (99356) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:23PM (#32420676)

    Keeping people uninformed is generally bad. If you teach EXACTLY how silly ID is and how to think critically by trying to support/disprove ID in class it could be quite the inoculation for a generation of kids.

  • Re:"controversy" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:46PM (#32421074)

    It might not be "scientifically controversial", however Intelligent Design is undeniably a controversy in political, educational and theistic circles; and a fascinating one at that. I can see tremendous value in analyzing how ID became a prominent issue - a populace who understands the cause and effect and recognizes patterns of behavior is less likely to be duped by the next round of bullshit propaganda.

    It seems churlish to reject the idea out of hand for fear of giving ID free press - is our view of humankind so jaded that we cannot trust others having been well-equipped with the facts surrounding the to come to their own view? This IMO is the only way to finally kill ID, at any rate sweeping it under the rug hasn't worked so far.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:47PM (#32421092) Journal

    Boy, you sure know how to throw out the etymological fallacies. "Law" is an outmoded term that hasn't really been used in science since the beginning of the 20th century. There is fundamentally no difference between the old 18th and 19th century notion of a "scientific law" and the 20th and 21st century notion of a "scientific theory". It's just a change of usage.

    You're floundering. Your lack of knowledge is such that your just aping very bad Creationist arguments.

  • Re:speak up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#32421130)

    It's hard to speak on being a Christian when some here are against religion in general and very outspoken about it, so I avoid conflict when I can. They want you to rationalize something irrational. To them human emotions are nothing more than chemicals, life nothing more than chance in the dice game of life. I believe different. Some can't accept this and want to change me. You might as well fight the Sun from coming up. My devotion to God is never ending. In my mind science is just proof of a creator, with each piece of evidence adding to the cornerstone of my faith. How can I look at this wonderful universe and assume it comes from chance? I cannot. I still haven't figured out why that bothers people so much. They just love to be right at any cost I guess.

  • Re:"controversy" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:52PM (#32421152)

    (Disclaimer, so one or two people might actually read this: I am not a creationist.)

    not scientifically controversial as if it were.

    That seems like a cop out argument to me though, it in many ways is essentially like saying:

    "I have through my personal studies become so thoroughly knowledgeable in this issue that I can completely derail and resolve any possible misunderstandings and thoroughly prove that I am right on this issue, therefore, you should take accept what I believe as true because if you don't, you are simply delaying the process of me explaining to you how you are wrong. You should take my word on faith that I have thoroughly laid all questions in this field to rest." - and to boot, "If you do not take my word on faith, what you are essentially doing is prolonging the problem because people will see your disbelief and still think that some people find this controversial- which, it is not."

    That is a tongue in cheek contradiction, saying, there is no controversy here, so please stop being controversial.

    "it's not a controversy among geologists."
    "not scientifically controversial as if it were."

    I am so saddened by this hivemind principle in which all scientists are in agreement about the various questions that so many before them have wrestled with. It simply is not so. This idea that all scientists are spock like creatures totally impartial unbiased with no wants, aims, prerogatives, agendas of their own, etc. But I do realize that the entire point to your analogy there was to point out that things which are not obvious to the layman are obvious to those who have made it literally their life to know as much as they can about a particular subject. And I agree.

    I think what saddens me more than anything else is this: Teachers of our modern era do not teach per say, they simply follow the protocol and the literature which they themselves are provided with from on high-- to boot, these are the required resources for the students-- thus, any real actual discussion that doesn't have already prepared arguments and counterpoints is virtually nonexistent. Musing on these things aloud between peers in a classroom is not only typically disliked by those in authority (understandably), but rather, it is typically prohibited (unfortunately).

    I can assure you this, as someone who has been involved within varying eschelons of the modern public education system: there are very few public school teachers that even know a small fraction of what they are teaching from the books they are provided with- a common exception to this is a teacher who has been using the same materials for 5+ years to teach from and is familiar with the book, and yet it can be seen over and over again, if that science book says that light travels at roughly 186,000 miles per second, that teacher may be able to parrot it to students, but if you ask them 'Is that only in the vacuum of space or is it an absolute constant throughout the universe even from the rays of the Sun hitting you and me from right here?', more than likely they are going to say its an absolute constant.

    So why am I saying all of this? For the simple point that the actual arguments which are presented between the 'molecules-to-man' evolution crowd and the 'intelligent design' crowd are often extremely technical (atomic mass spectroscopy / helium diffusion rates in various substances / c14 cross contamination in diamonds, etc) and totally beyond the scope of what your average or even above average science teacher is capable of presenting. To make matters worse it is an extremely volatile subject and there are very few people that are as close to truly impartial as they can possibly be (and thus, evidence presented will always be either presented with a tarnish of disgust or a subtle flare of acceptance in zealotry).

    So last night I was reading Neil DeGrasse Tyson & Goldsmiths 'Origins' before I went to sleep. You know what it sits next to it on my shelf? Morris' 'The Genesis Flood'. Why? How ma

  • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#32421240)
    That's not actually a hole in the use of ID. It's a reason why most Christians -- even many fundamentalist Christians -- don't need ID. But there are some Christian fundamentalists whose reading of Genesis leads them to conclude that God created all the species as they are now on whichever of the seen days it was. They believe in development within a species, so they accept that horse breeding programs can lead to faster horses, for example, but not that new species can emerge. For those fundamentalists the idea that the creator used evolution is acceptable for development within a species but not for the emergence of new species because (they believe) that doesn't happen.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:00PM (#32421270)

    I can't tell from the article what grade they're including this topic for, but unless their schools are a lot better than US schools, I doubt that any high school student is equipped well enough to determine the validity of an assertion such as Intelligent Design.

    WTF? Scientific theory is something that can be taught at the 8th grade. A 6-year old can understand the difference between"magic" and "here's how you test it".

    Start expecting more from kids, and you will get more from them. Expect less, and you will get exactly that.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:08PM (#32421362)

    Playing devil's advocate.

    Some parts of ID can be treated as real scientific theories. For example, ID makes a prediction that large irreducibly complex systems can't be created by evolution.

    This prediction, of course, is not correct - it's quite possible to evolve irreducibly complex systems from reducibly complex systems.

  • Queensland (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:22PM (#32421556)

    None of this stuff surprises me. There's lots of crazy religious whackjobs and woo-peddlers from Queensland, and besides wheat, coal and bauxite, Christian, right-wing and New Age crap is one of our biggest exports.

    Having grown up in regional Queensland, I can testify first hand that this place is, as some wag once said, like Alambama with better beaches.

    The place has a deep right-wing authoritarian streak going way back, and it periodically resurfaces in the form of the "Liberal National Party", a rabble of right-wing redneck farmers who occasionally scrape together enough votes to get into power and screw everything up. Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (USians, think Huey Long), was the closest thing to a dictator this country has ever seen, and presided over a thuggish and thoroughly corrupt ostensibly-Christian police state which followed around and harassed its enemies. I have friends who had Special Branch files a foot thick... which the Joh government conveniently had shredded Stasi-style when they were kicked out for being outrageously corrupt.

    That kind of parochialism and petty right-wing nastiness breeds a xenophobic and superstitious outlook that hasn't changed a bit as long as I've been alive. Rural south east Queensland is a hotbed of cult activity, and our Christian fundamentalists are reknowned the world over; several of the world's biggest IDers and Creationists come fresh from beautiful and sunny Queensland to spread their vile ideas around the world. We also have export-grade racists and idiots like Pauline Hanson, who left Australia recently for London (without even a hint of irony) because there are "too many Asians" in Australia. We also have a lot of New Age silliness, and it tends to cluster in places like the New South Wales border. They're mostly harmless, apart from their embrace of dangerous silliness like the anti-vaccination movement, which has caused communities to lose herd immunity, and children to die from diseases thought eradicated 50 years ago.

    Outside of the fairly vibrant and fast-growing south east corner, Queensland is a Mecca for all sorts of stupid, vile and ugly people, many who purport to call themselves Christian.

  • by revlayle (964221) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:46PM (#32421934) Homepage
    After reading about this a bit more, I have to say that you are right. Why the change of usage and why the deprecation of the word "law"? I am certainly a layman in these respects (painfully obvious by now), using the word "theory" to the rest of the world seems to indicate something that isn't totally proven. I even think that the distinction is incorrectly taught to this day. I mean I was taught that in my junior-high school days in the mid 80s - and no indication was given, of course, that "law" is not used much anymore. Going into college my studies didn't really center around those distinctions either (ok, I am sure my Physics courses did, but I didn't care about them so much then - I was Computer "Science" - where not a lot of science is really taught in regards to software development).

    when I'm wrong, I'm wrong... and usually, for all to see on /.

    Being on topic and echoing in another post I made, I still think creationism and ID would make good philosophical studies (and maybe history, even thought for ID not sure of the significance except as the "counter" to evolution), not sure it would be appropriate for grade schools.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:59PM (#32422132)

    They're welcome to believe whatever they want, but that doesn't make it true. Nor does it make it okay to teach in a science class. That's the problem with ID; it's being pushed as legitimate science when it isn't. Nobody is denying that there are some things that science just can't currently explain, and possibly never will be able to. Some of these things, like the nature of the afterlife, are clearly within the realm of the divine. ID and Creationism are attempting to attribute to the divine that which has already been explained by science. ID's purpose is to sneak religion into science class where it doesn't belong.

    I never understood why evolution is such a threat to religion. How does us evolving from apes say anything about the existence of God? What does it even have to do with it? Hell, if I was God, evolution and natural selection actually seems like a pretty damn good way to design an ecosystem! It's resilient and adaptive and I don't have to micromanage it. It's only a problem if you believe in an absolute literal interpretation of the Bible. You know, that book that was written down by men 2000 years ago and translated and re-transcribed God only knows how many times (pun intended).

    This is my feeling as well, I personally feel that God the creator created the universe. I have too hard a time with any 'spontaneous creation' scenario (the Big Bang seems to fly in the face of the second law of thermodynamics IMO) to give them credence. However, it is obvious that natural selection and evolution do affect the biosphere, and trying to explain anything with a creationist viewpoint is wrongheaded. Evolution can explain phenomena, and whether you feel that evolution is guided or unguided is unimportant to the discussion. I have always felt that religious texts should be subjected to the tenants of logic because all of it was written by men, and men have agendas. Believing in divine conception takes faith, believing that dozens of men would write laws that didn't somehow reflect their own agenda and then be propagated through centuries without prejudice invading those laws, that's just gullibility.

    That is one reason I like the Gospels, they are second hand accounts of God, and there are at least 4 multiple sources to cross-reference. The letters of Paul I have the most issue accepting as they are mostly the ramblings of one man supposedly 'inspired' by God.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @02:45PM (#32422672)

    "I never understood why evolution is such a threat to religion."

    Omniscient god cannot make mistakes, science undermines all the errors those "inspired" writers made.

    Roman 5:12

    i.e. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--"

    "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned."

    The problem with that is _Death_ always existed from the beginning, that's a huge falsification of religion right their. Sin doesn't exist since death and bloodshed is natural part of evolution, no matter how much "liberal christians" want to compartmentalize bastardize the plain meaning of these words. Christ existence serves _no purpose_ in christian religion. Since sin and death was their before any human beings were around.

  • by StrategicIrony (1183007) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:19PM (#32423222)

    My main problem with the teaching of evolution is the attempt to actually ban the discussion of any criticism of the theory. Yes, I understand that such criticism could lead to the discussion of religion in the classroom*, but if you are going to ban discussion based on the possibility of that discussion moving to a discussion about religion, then all discussion should banned and anything can have a religion underpinning.

    * There is nothing wrong or Unconstitutional about discussing or even teaching religious doctrine in a classroom. I learned about the Greek religions in History class years ago and never had the urge to bow to Zeus.

    There IS a problem with addressing a specific theory as if it is truth, or controversy. One may teach Greek creation stories of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders in the "people once believed that.." category.

    The category of "perhaps this is an alternative to scientific evolution theories" is entirely different and almost completely unjustifiable, in my opinion.

    Almost thirty percent of the world are Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and other traditional Asian religions. Almost 10% fit in a smattering of others (traditional tribal, Sikhism, Jainism, etc).

    I'm not sure, but perhaps that dictates the teaching (in the same light) of the Vishnu, Brahma creation story. It might be worth referencing the Buddhist doctrine that pondering the creation of Universe is a bit contrary to Buddhist ideals. Or perhaps the giant Tortoise creation myth that is very common in geographically diverse tribal religions.

    To be fair, 20 years ago, I learned about many of these in Social Studies class. I don't think there's any controversy teaching that.

    It's the migration of these theories into science class, when there is relatively no scientific merit to them, that is vexing.

    We have just as much scientific evidence of Noah's flood or Adam and Eve's garden as we do of Vishnu growing a giant flower from his navel, from which a many-headed deity was hatched.

    *shrug*

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:40PM (#32423580)

    Damnit having burnt karma sucks when a great discussion ensues!

    I did a little more reading into the subject and it seems that most pro-ID sources suggest that if it was ID'd, it did not also evolve. So that answers my own question.

    I would still say good science is open-minded and skeptical. I would still say that humans are on the verge of being Intelligent Designers. And I would still say that IMHO something could be both intelligently designed, and evolve.

    I would say that my current thoughts on the subject fall more inline with the latter of your post.

    Finally I think the only reason it matters is because we are actually doing ID. I mention the Drake Equation because it allows one to entertain some interesting thought experiments. Especially in regards to human technological ability.

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:58PM (#32424654)

    Institutionalized religion makes a good deal of coin and wields a great deal of power by getting people's thoughts in line with their teachings. They'd like to keep this power, rather than hand it off to the secularists. Ergo, controversy.

  • by Databass (254179) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:17PM (#32424854)

    This topic gets so overheated that I think we can miss a subtler point- having a short unit on the the fact that some people believed Intelligent Design in history, and then discussing how to analyze claims like that scientifically. You can approach the topic as an observer rather than necessarily as an authority.

    For example:

    "In 1997, 39 people committed suicide via drinking poisoned Kool Aid, because they believed that would free their souls from their bodies to teleport to a hidden alien spacecraft hidden in the tail of Comet Hale-Bopp. Let's use this example to discuss social psychology, peer pressure, and cult-like thinking in human behavior..." This could prove to be an interesting topic that makes kids think about just how far people can go. Teaching it does NOT mean teaching the children that alien comet-craft are real or that poisoned Kool Aid is a good, although hysterical claims to that effect could be made.

    Similarly, at least rationally discussing the historical fact that some people believed in Intelligent Design and concepts like scientific provability, experiment replication, hypothesis and how to support them with evidence could be a fine topic, worth discussing. I know this sounds a little like capitulating to the whole "Teach the Controversy" approach, but I think there is potential in valuing how people came to believe "controversies" that absolutely no longer are. Examples: Sun revolves around earth, earth is flat, etc etc.

  • by williamhb (758070) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:39PM (#32426204) Journal

    Even aside from religious beliefs, it is very difficult for many people to believe that the world and people as they are came about because of chance. Just look at the number of references in popular culture to fate and "the meaning of life". Going back even as far as the Greeks, it was a major theme of their literature and plays. The notion that natural selection determines that outcome of the universe is, to many people, a profoundly unsettling explanation.

    For most religions, as I understand it, the issue is actually much more fundamental than that. (Trying to describe this here is going to be a little like trying to describe the socialist rationale to George W Bush, but here goes:)

    For a moment, set aside the pure materialist assumption that everything is mechanical and repeatable (historically that was viewed as a sweeping and unproven claim to make) and consider the world from a perspective more akin to mathematics or philosophy.

    Here is a mathematical description of the empty set: {}. That empty set does not contain time for there to be an opportunity for anything to appear within it, even by chance. Pure materialists talk about the outcome of the universe as "why is the universe the way it is" (that is what science [actually, my job] can address) whereas more fundamental/basic philosophies, actually including religions, are more concerned with "why is there any universe at all" and "what makes this universe qualitatively different than any other mathematical set I could write on paper". (That we can only ask the question because we exist isn't a sufficient answer, because it is the meaning of "exist" that is questioned.) This is true, for instance, in old testament philosophy, in which God's word is true not merely because God is trustworthy but because God's word defines the universe. (God creates the rules.) To use a trite but famous example, it is not "And God said 'Let there be light' and then an army of angels went and created bits of light" but "And God said 'Let there be light' and there was light". In old testament philosophy, it is a definition not an order. In short the most fundamental claim is that it is God's declaration of this universe that gives it the special quality of actually existing in a way that the set of all fictional universes I could dream up does not. That is a very long way out of the scope of things I can address in my job as a scientist. ID, for its proponents, comes later as a speculation about progressive definition of creatures in a declared universe. If you've already deduced/decided that God exists then it seems like a fairly simple thing to speculate; if you've already deduced/decided that God does not exist then it seems "obviously" ridiculous and unlikely. And thus, as we've seen its proponents and opponents go at each other hammer and tongs each thinking the other is a bit daft. And personally I reckon that's because they are arguing about step 2 in their reasoning when their basic disagreement is about step 1.

  • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:08PM (#32426856) Homepage Journal

    I never understood why evolution is such a threat to religion. How does us evolving from apes say anything about the existence of God? What does it even have to do with it?

    Others have already given their thoughts on why they directly conflict, but my take on it has always been something a little more subtle. The advance of scientific explanations of the world makes God, or any other mythological explanation, an increasingly unnecessary hypothesis (as Laplace once told Napoleon when asked why his book on astronomy made no mention of God). Without a concept like evolution, atheism is susceptible to a rather plausible appeal to absurdity: "so, what, all this order in nature, including human intelligence itself, just happened to pop into existence for no reason?"

    Creationists often like to portray the claims of evolution as being like this, like claiming that everything just happened by chance, but really evolution is an *alternate explanation* for the existence of order, not the assertion that there is no explanation. Evolutionary theory provides an explanation for how a chaotic system can develop into an ordered one by natural, impersonal processes, thus dissolving the dichotomy of "a person (God) made this order... or, lol, everything just happened by coincidence, right". Without the only alternative to God being that improbable coincidence, one of the major arguments for the existence of God (called the teleological argument, or argument from design) loses its foundation, and failing another, better argument, people might just think "well, if this evolution thing explains all that, then where exactly does God fit in this picture?"

    And the theists don't like that idea, so they either come up with some other role for God to play, the typical ones being pushing it back further ("God created the first single-celled organisms and then let evolution take over", or even "God created the Big Bang and then let physics take over") or the "morality is the domain of religion, reality is the domain of science" angle (which I just wrote a rant against elsewhere on Slashdot)... or they argue against evolution to preserve a place for God.

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