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.