The Intelligent-Design Debate

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 11, 2005 | Go to article overview

The Intelligent-Design Debate


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In reading David Limbaugh's Tuesday Commentary column, "Intelligent design stirrings," it occurs to me that there is a more fundamental issue at stake in the ongoing educational debate. The arguments on both sides too often get caught up in the tit-for-tat accusations of "Darwinism is a flawed theory" and "Intelligent Design is not scientific." When the argument is framed this way, it is not surprising that it gets subsumed into the overwrought blue-state-vs.-red-state culture war. However, stating the argument that way ignores the fundamental nature of science itself.

Science can be defined as a system of knowledge described in theories accountable to the rigors of physical evidence and experiment. Thus, to deride Darwinism as "just a theory" is nonsensical. Just because Isaac Newton's theory of gravity required some tweaking by Einstein does not mean it was wrong to teach it as the dominant theory. Darwinism may not be a perfect theory, but its long-proven utility should establish it as the leading theory until it is superseded.

Likewise, it is dangerous to dismiss Intelligent Design or any other theory without a just trial. Any truly scientific theory could only be strengthened by healthy skepticism. Darwinism has prevailed for nearly 150 years, so surely the greater burden of proof is with the challenger. Mr. Limbaugh says 400-plus skeptical scientists "have signed onto a list of those expressing skepticism 'of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.' " Whether those scientists have formulated a theory that will surpass Darwinism will be decided in due time by the scientific community. Meanwhile, the young minds of our country should be taught Darwinism, that it is not above criticism, and that it remains the most influential theory to date.

Circumventing the scientific process for political expediency will not only harm our aspiring biologists; it will cloud the very nature of science in the minds of students. At a time when scientific advancement in an increasingly competitive world market is critical to prosperity, it is unwise to take the advancement of theories out of the hands of scientists and put it into those of politicians.

CHRIS HAVER

Arlington

*

As David Limbaugh notes, Darwinists who fear the teaching of Intelligent Design side by side with evolution are unsettled by President Bush's endorsement of, to coin a phrase, academic freedom, fearing "God's 'foot in the door' " of our secular schools.

Perhaps those who say of Intelligent Design that it is merely redesigned creationism stripped of religious content can explain why we scan the heavens in search of signal patterns that indicate other intelligence at the same time that we look at the structure of DNA, genes and the human cell and think all of this could happen randomly, without Intelligent Design, merely as he result of some chemical shake-and-bake.

Sir Fred Hoyle argued that life could not have arisen on Earth by accident. Even if the entire universe had consisted of primordial soup, he concluded, accident would not have led to the creation of life.

Darwin himself acknowledged that gaps in the fossil record could eventually undermine his theory of common descent. …

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