Intelligent design? - Journal of Omnifarious
Jul. 10th, 2006
09:37 am - Intelligent design?
On Friday at Convergence I attended a panel about intelligent design. It was an interesting panel. Several of the people who I talked to afterwards said that they sensed a lot of hostility towards religion in the room.
Here are some of the more important points brought up:
- There seems to be a misunderstanding of the word 'theory' at the heart of all of this. In particular, perhaps there is a distinction between 'theory' and 'scientific theory' that could be useful.
- Why not a comparative religion course? (Many seemed to feel that children are too stupid (Err, *ahem* I guess immature is more the sense of what they meant) to understand this or that there is no time for this in a strained school budget. I found these arguments to be extremely telling.)
- The only thing that belongs in a science classroom are statements that are falsifiable by experiment. What we consider valid scientific theories or good working hypothesis are only such falsifiable statements that no experiment has yet proven false.
- Perhaps some acknowledgement in a science classroom that some people have a philosophical objection to science's methods or some of the working theories currently accepted as the best we can do so far would be enough.
- I said that science where you couldn't design an experiment that could be repeated was a lesser science. If all you can do is make predictions about the evidence you expect to find and let the finding of evidence be the 'experiment', it isn't as good as being able to design a repeatable experiment of your own. (Someone hotly disagreed with this idea)
If I missed some here that you consider important and you were in the discussion, please point them out and I'll add them.
I didn't sense hostility towards religion. What I sensed was a war of doctrine. I feel very strongly that various segments of our society are warring over our children's minds. The implicit assumption is that parents can't be trusted to teach their children the 'right' thing and that children can't be trusted to be able to reach their own conclusions after having been handed the evidence. I think this is extremely damaging to our democracy.
I wish both sides would quit it. I especially wish that the side I happen to agree with would quit it. I strongly suspect that the side I happen to agree started the whole thing at one point when they used their political power to force their point of view on others using the public school system. And to be upset over the backlash and attempt to do the same thing by the other groups smacks of either stupidity and/or ignorance or the kind of conniving disingenuity I would expect of the worst of politicians.
Control over what other people's (or even your own) children think is an illusory power. But I think everything possible should be done to remove even the illusion that it can be done by the state. One of my biggest reasons for supporting school vouchers is that I feel this is a way to permanently and very visibly move the illusory power to the parents where it belongs. I do not like seeing various groups fighting over it and ripping the country apart in the process. But really, if you think school vouchers would break the educational system in other ways I'm happy to entertain any other solutions you think would accomplish this goal.
I have a bunch of thoughts on my personal value system for evaluating new ideas, but I realize now that they probably belong in another post.