Don’t let the terrorists win

Roger Simon is taking on the Intelligent Design fanatics.

Students in Dover, Pennsylvania and other rural areas are just as entitled to a real education as those in Los Angeles and New York. In fact the country needs them to have it, especially in science and math. And in the case of public education, it is not in our interest to waste precious taxpayer dollars teaching mythology in biology.

I’m glad to see him taking on this issue. We Americans are tolerant people, so we’re inclined to say “what’s the harm?” and accede to angry mobs trying to introduce crazy ideas like ID into the school curriculum. We’ve done this sort of misplaced tolerance thing about a thousand times, and the result is a dysfunctional education system where kids seem to spend more time undergoing therapy than learning science and the liberal arts.

I think we have to call a spade a spade: ID isn’t an alternative scientific theory, or an alternative philosophy of science, it’s a piece of bad theology masquerading as science. I’ve studied its origins at the Discovery Institute and come away convinced that it’s more than anything an attempt to circumvent court decisions banning creationism by dressing creationism up in pseudo-scientific language.

Science attempts to uncover laws of nature than can be used to make predictions. Pursuing this path, we’ve learned that genes mutate randomly, and that successful mutations survive, especially when environmental changes make previous adaptations less successful. This is a valuable discovery that has practical applications in the understanding of disease, the breeding of plants and animals, and in the search for previously unknown life forms. ID destroys the rules, asserting that each life form was produced by divine whim so there’s no sense in trying to understand genetics, variation, selection, or mutation; in fact, it ultimately condemns biological science as an act of hubris, an affront to god. We don’t need anti-scientific interests directing science education in the USA.

It’s interesting to note that ID is very popular among Islamists – I don’t have the reference handy, but there was a poll that indicated overwhelming support for it among fundamentalist Muslim, even more than among fundy Christians.

That being the case, we should understand that if we teach ID in our science classes, the terrorists will have won, and the same goes for other pseudo-science doctrines such as the “AZT causes AIDS” and “Ebonics is a language” notions floated notoriously in the blogosphere.

See Cathy Young for more.

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