Prometheus vs. ID

Prometheus has recently posted a hum-dinger of a fisking of "intelligent design." Basically, he points out legal, ethical, and practical consequences that ID advocates may not have considered. It's an essay well worth reading. I do, however, have a relatively minor quibble.

At one point, Prometheus makes the Pandora's box argument:
Once the "Intelligent Design" promoters get their "camel's nose" into the tent of the public schools, they may find that they have opened a door that they would rather have kept shut. After all, if "ID" believers are allowed to preach their religious tenents in public schools, why not everybody else? Of course, the other religions would also have to "dress up" their beliefs as the "Intelligent Design" promoters have, but that shouldn't be too difficult, given the template that "ID" has provided.

Personally, I think that the obvious next candidate for inclusion would be the Atheists, who should be allowed to present their "theory" that there is no "Intelligent Designer". Their data is just as compelling as that of the "ID" people, so I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to have their day in school. Of course, the Atheists wouldn't say that there is no God, just that there is no "Intelligent Designer". That's different - isn't it?
Prometheus is correct that, if we allow one form of disguised religion into the science classroom, there would then be nothing (in principle, at least) to stop other forms of disguised religion. However his comment about atheists is somewhat off base. In actuality, ID proponents would say that atheism is already being taught in the form of evolution, that atheists are already getting the opportunity to present their "theory" that there is no "intelligent designer." Even though there is no inherent conflict between belief in God and accepting the science of evolution, ID proponents still like to try to link evolution with atheism, and make the "argument" that ID is only countering the "inherent" atheism of evolutionary theory (while at the same time trying very hard not to admit that, by the "designer," they mean God). Far more effective is the second part of his argument, namely that, under the terms of ID, there is no reason that pantheists shouldn't be able to present a "theory" that there are many "intelligent designers."

Minor quibble aside, it's an excellent article, well worth reading.


  1. There's an article in the latest issue of Science by a Mexican scientist who states that largely CAtholic Mexico has a long history of acceptance of evolution, and not seeing a conflict with their faith.

    Yet he sees signs of Protestant fundamentalists coming down from the US to try to influence public thought about evolution and its incompatibility with Biblical teaching.

  2. A polytheist would say that there are many intelligent designers. A pantheist would say that the universe is God.

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  4. The evidence favors the polytheist theory of multiple intelligent designers. Living things look much more like something designed by a committee than something designed by a single good engineer.

  5. In actuality, ID proponents would say that atheism is already being taught in the form of evolution, that atheists are already getting the opportunity to present their "theory" that there is no "intelligent designer."

    And I, as the Atheist trying to sneak my religion in, would rightfully and riteously vehemently disagree with them, that only silence on the question of non-God is being taught.

    I would point to the disagreement as evidence that there is a controversy, and I'd demand that all I really want is to mention the gaps in Intelligent Design (if we still believe in critical thinking).

    I may finally point out that although some other Atheists might use this argument to insert their relgion, that in reality since ID has nothing whatsoever to do with religion (or so I hear) that those people would be making their own personal connection and those opinions have nothing to do with the science.

  6. I'll admit that calling atheism a "religion" was a bit over the top. It seemed like a good analogy at the time (atheism as a "special case" of religion where "god" is represented by the null set), but it touched a lot more nerves than I thought it would. Of course, if I'd given it a bit more thought...

    So, for the record:

    Atheism is not a religion.

    I have a hard time believing that people like Behe - who were trained in real science - are actually buying the crap they're dishing out. It has to be an act to fool the "public" so that they can get their religion into our kids' schools. Or maybe I just can't imagine how someone could be so deluded. One or the other.

    Well, if the ID'ers want to teach their religion ("Intelligent Design") in our public schools, then I think we should invite in everybody else who has an opinion on religion - including (here I go in harm's way again) atheists. I think that if the point is to "present all sides of the argument", then we ought to hear from people who think that there is no "Intelligent Designer" as well as those who think that there are many.

    I vehemently disagree that teaching evolution is the same as teaching atheism - I think I understand evolution as well as most anybody, and I've never heard any of the theories (or sub-theories) of evolution that even mentions a deity (or deities)either their existence or non-existence. And not mentioning something is not the same as saying it doesn't exist.

    Ultimately, "Intelligent Design" will go the way of the earth-centered universe and the luminiferous ether and for the same reason - the data doesn't support it. Until then, we will just have to fight the good fight in order to stave off the Unenlightenment (Dark Ages II).



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