Monday, 19 February 2007

10 Institutions That Ruin The World - #10

Over the next 10 days I will post a list of the 10 institutions that are ruining the world and how, in spite of their lofty aspirations, they actually end up doing harm. Today we have:

#10 - The Intelligent Design Movement, Discovery Institute

Intelligent Design postulates that the world is too complex to have evolved naturally, that there seems to be an order to things and that this order was created by a Designer. Intelligent Design (ID) is a product of the Discovery Institute, a Christian think tank that aims to counter what it sees as today's materialistic and immoral society through a recovery in the strength of Judeo-Christian values.

To the casual observer that might reduce to 'Christians believe in God as the Creator'. Big deal. Unfortunately, it is a big deal and a really big one at that. Let me explain.

In order to garner public acceptance of Creationism (that the world is 6,000 years old and the Old Testament is the literal truth et blah) it was renamed Creation Science, with the term first being used way back in the 1960s. The Creation Science movement tried hard for a long time to establish its bona fides and even attracted some high profile scientists to argue for the cause. However, the oxymoronic name and fundamentalist dogma were simply too great a hurdle to overcome and so acceptance of Creation Science remained largely confined within the Christian evangelical movement.

Enter the Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design. Understanding that Creation Science was a dead duck, the Discovery Institute sought a successor, one that would not just be a rebadged version of Creation Science but would be promoted as having the same legitimacy as Evolution. In order to deal with its opponents, a set of arguments were prepared that strongly countered the criticism of Creation Science. The aim was to have ID taught alongside Evolution in the biology classes of America's schools.

In 2004 the Discovery Institute was in a position to push ID into the school system and chose the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania. In summary: it stacked the School Board, raised the concern of Evolution being taught exclusively, took advice from the Thomas More Law Center, advocated teaching ID alongside Evolution and put it to a vote, which was carried 6-3. The situation ended up in court and in September 2005 Judge Jones issued a 139 page finding of fact stating that ID was no different to Creation Science, that it was therefore unconstitutional and that the ID proponents were pretty much a pack of lunatics. It could not have been a worse result for the Discovery Institute.

The reason that the Intelligent Design movement is an institution that is ruining the world is that the case became so high profile it polarised people against Christianity that would have otherwise held neutral or respectful views. It became a lightning rod for the worst, and loudest, groups in society such as the ACLU to hold up as proof of a Christian conspiracy to take over America. For the devout non-believer in society whose major value is narcissism and who believes in this same Christian conspiracy the ID movement ensured that the Christian Values baby got thrown out with the God bathwater. The fact that there's even a supposed Christian conspiracy is due to non-believers not being able to separate Christian values from Christianity and when they hear people talking about positive Christian values they equate that with God, which they've rejected.

Values are what bind a society together and without them we need to give government the task of making laws about how we'll conduct ourselves. Every time government passes a law that forces us to act in a particular way we give up a piece of our personal freedom. This is one of the reasons socialism is so destructive. It's no fluke that those countries with strong Judeo-Christian values made the greatest progress in the last two hundred years or that those that have rejected those values are now facing the greatest challenges. The difference between Western Europe and the USA in terms of societal values has never been starker. Europe is now almost completely secular, mostly socialist in the way it taxes society, passes laws seemingly as sport and has a birth rate that will see the population decline by 20-30% by 2050. No wonder countries like Germany and Holland have net positive emigration rates (i.e. more people are leaving the place than moving in).

The US and Australia retain their sense of cultural identity and values but there is always an ongoing battle against the socialist forces in society wanting to bring those down and replace them with the State. To people like me that are profoundly atheist (surprised by that?) who appreciate the strength of Judeo-Christian values, understand their role in making our countries great and wish to see society continue to be guided by their wisdom
the Intelligent Design Movement's decision to act in the way it did seriously harmed the public's positive view of Judeo-Christian values - to our great detriment.

The Intelligent Design Movement and the Discovery Institute are #10 on my list of Institutions That Ruin The World.


Anonymous said...

"et blah" is funny. But I think you overlook a fundamental reason why the Discovery Institute is dangerous. Namely: It's DEAD WRONG. Its content is not fact, not science, not true, not teachable in a proper science classroom -- and yet it wants people to believe take these non-facts on faith and believe them instead of believing what we've learned scientifically. It wants American children to believe a bunch of non-truths. That's worse than making people snicker at Christianity.

Jack Lacton said...

Heh. I laughed at "et blah", too, when I wrote it. It seemed really appropriate.

You're quite right about the 'science' being dead wrong. I took it as writ that the fact was well known.

Thanks for the feedback.

Anonymous said...

As a Christian, I do believe in creation, but I'm not a young earth creationist, nor do I distrust science. Many times I wonder why the two have been divorced. Do I believe in evolution? Well I think Darwin figured out part of how God did things but I don't think life is a cosmic joke and we play the fool.

And ID vs Darwin belongs in the debate section of school not science anyway...

PS I liked the et, blah part as well...

Geoarrge said...

As a young earth creationist, I think the biggest problem is how the debate has been carried out for the most part incorrectly, on both/all sides' parts.

Specifically, the problem is the role of the ACLU in establishing evolutionism in the public education system. It did not really use science to achieve its goal, but the Constitutional requirement that the government not teach religious doctrine. That's really quite fair, except for the part that government schools now have the implicit authority to dictate what is and is not a religious belief, which means the schools get away with implicitly condemning any religious belief that conflicts with a nonreligious belief without having to actually back up their position. I don't mean just evolution here, but the PC crap as well.

The problem is also the evangelical Christians who think the solution is to scientifically prove creationism until it can be forced into the public schools. That is unlikely to happen. They have made some interesting discoveries in such areas as the RATE project, but anyone with a healthy level of skepticism isn't going to change sides just because the other guys also have evidence.

The real question ought to be what business the government has in running our schools in the first place, if they indeed are legally crippled from delivering a proper education.

Competition has a certain place in science, which is sometimes obstructed when the academic mob develops a strong adherence to one position. When that happens the only way to preserve competition is to build a parallel system of education, research, and funding. It won't be until the competitive nature of this issue is embraced by both sides, when they start setting common goals and see who can get to them first, that real scientific progress will occur. Who knows, maybe then the creationist education/research/funding machine will implode from humiliation, with only the most fanatical splinters remaining.

Eric said...

Well, despite really enjoying the previous 9 Institutions that Ruin the World, I have to say I respectfully disagree with your choice for #10 for a couple of reasons.
First, it has always been my impression that the recent Intelligent Design movment, at least in the U.S.A. did not, in fact, get it's start from Creation Science or Christianity at all. My understanding was that the ID movement began with a collection of scientists (many were not religious at all), largely from relatively newer sciences such as molecular/cellular biology, genetics, quantum mechanics and others that have developed largely after WW2.
Apparently, some of their findings called into question some of the assumptions long taken for granted by evolutionists in the older sciences of geology and paleontology (sp opps?). They tried bringing up some of these questions only to be uninvited at conventions and to be suppressed. As a result, they began to launch out on their own, publishing books like, "Darwin's Black Box" which I have read and found intriguing - though some of the science goes over my head.
It IS true that ID has found a welcome ally in Creation Science and evangelical Christians but how does that weaken the questions that they are asking?
I feel that science ought to never make itself unquestionable by the very "priests" (meaning other scientists) that make it so exalted. I get suspicious whenever someone is told to "shut up you're a loon" by the establishment - especially when the establishment doesn't, in fact, answer the objection or question - it just yells loud and nasty to end the discussion. VERY scientific! Makes me think they have something to hide or something to lose.
If ID is a joke - debate it openly in front of everyone and prove it! That's what I would like to see. If evolutionists are correct, what do they have to be so afraid of? The whole tempest seems kind of screwy to me...