Sunday, April 27, 2008

Teach the Controversy

Though I was disappointed that Ben Stein's movie, Expelled , didn't have more science, I was glad that it exposes the divide of opinions about what science is and who can define it. Though the controversy in grade-school teaching of evolution is well-publicized, this dimension of university tensions over research is not. It was interesting that the Pope visited the US in the same week as Expelled opened. Pope Benedict asked his flock to live out our lives as Catholic believers. That we are entitled to view science as a study of God's creation is one area that needs a lot of work.

The disappointment in the lack of actual science in the movie is because the "Intelligent Design Science" is legitimate and amazing. Evolution is not just about bones anymore. It is about the genetics and molecular workings of life. That is what I am trying to convey in my blog, limited as I may be in my abilities to do so. More and more is being discovered each day, and it will take time to see the implications. But however grand Science may be, God is grander. I know not all believe that, but I do. Belief is different from reason, but not inferior.

The Intelligent Design movement is led by several organizations, including the Discovery Institute (link at right) which is featured in the movie Expelled. Many of the leading scientists in the movement are associated with Discovery. There are two aspects to their outlooks: scientific conclusions, and their personal faiths. Sometimes they come across as claiming that the Designer could be anyone or anything. That may be OK for non-Christians, but it is not OK for Christians. If a person says on a Sunday morning, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth," and in the afternoon in an Intelligent Design conference says, "The designer could be anybody," there is a problem. Let's not quibble over the meanings of "design" and "creation." The point of the ID advocates is that science can go only so far. The reality of our inability to create an exact experiment of the events at the beginning of life will always keep us from knowing scientifically exactly what happened.

A problem still exists: the inevitable question comes to the teachers and scientists and writers explaining Intelligent Design Theory: Who is the Designer? Christians can't answer that question by saying, "I don't know."

The Discovery Institute advises to "teach the controversy." They say it is legal to present scientific arguments against evolution. A teacher may likely be confronted with a related question,"If evolution is wrong, what is right?" The teacher must be able to say, "I believe it is God who designed life." That should be the legal right of the teacher to have religious freedom in this country, but is that right given to him/her by the present laws?

Update 1/21/2013: My interest in Intelligent Design Theory (ID) has changed to what is called "Special Creationism," the belief that God created species separately and directly. Much of the biological science in ID is similar to Special Creationism.

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