The verdict is in: Intelligent Design (ID) is religion. U.S. District Judge John Jones made that ruling this week after hours of careful study and testimony relating to the attempt by the Dover, PA school board (since voted out of office) to push for the teaching of ID alongside natural selection in Dover science classes.
Good for Judge Jones! Intelligent Design holds that aspects of life are so complex as to preclude their emergence from natural selection, and must come from an intelligent designer. Trying to avoid the label “religious,” ID supporters claim not to know who or what this designer might be.
Let me help them out. Either the designer is God as mainstream Judaism, Christianity, and Islam assert, or it is an alien race from another universe that seeded this planet with complex beings. If the former, ID is religion. If the later it is science fiction. In either case, ID does not belong in the science classroom.
As I write this an email commentary by David Klinghoffer on the same subject has just arrived. I found his essay so troubling that I have to comment on it as well.
Klinghoffer says, “If ID is bogus because many of its theorists have religious beliefs to which the controversial critique of Darwinism lends supports, then what should we say about Darwinism itself?”
This is nonsense. The problem with Intelligent Design is not the religious beliefs of its supporters, but its lack of scientific credibility. What makes science science is its methodology. The scientific method posits ideas and then tests their veracity. An idea that cannot be tested may be true, but it is not science. You cannot argue with ID. You cannot prove or disprove the notion that there is a Designer behind creation. This does not mean there is no Designer, only that positing one is not science and does not belong in science class.
Klinghoffer: “[C]riticizing Darwin’s theory in biology class is unconstitutional.”
This is insulting. Challenging and defeating current scientific theories is at the heart of science and makes scientists who do so famous. Criticizing Darwin is in no way unconstitutional. What is unconstitutional is teaching religion as science, which is what ID tries to do.
Klinghoffer: “One may choose Darwin or one may choose God.”
Thank you, David; you just made Judge Jones’ case for him. The judge said that ID is a theological position rather than a scientific one. The aim of proponents of ID is to introduce God into the science curriculum. While ID supporters deny this, Klinghoffer has the guts to admit it: it is a matter of Darwin versus God. But which God?
If the ID people simply posit a generic god who designed creation and then left it to its own devices, they are Deists, a popular 18th century position held by most of our Founding Fathers, but no longer in vogue today. If they posit a god who comes with a revealed book, an ethical system, and an afterlife of reward and punishment, then we are mired in theological debate and not scientific study.
Since most ID supporters are Evangelical Christians, and most of them believe that God dooms all nonbelievers to eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell, I imagine that the Intelligent Designer they have in mind is in fact the God they believe in. If so Jews, other Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and all other left-behind-types may want to take issue with ID not on scientific grounds but on religious ones.
The point is simply this: ID is religion and has no place in the science classroom. Does that make science and God incompatible? Only if you want it to.