Uncommon Sense

March 11, 2013

Intelligent Designers Have Designs on Your Children

Ken Miller

Dr. Ken Miller, Brown U.

Ken Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown, has provided an interesting take on the “teach the controversy” folk’s argument. If you haven’t been paying attention, the idea came out of The Discovery Institute, a flaming hotbed of creationists, that evolution is after all “just a theory” and “intelligent design” should be taught along side. If Intelligent Design doesn’t ring any bells for you, since creationism was branded as a religious theory and not a scientific theory … in court, it was rebranded as the “Intelligent Design Theory.” Instead of God creating the universe, they refer to some unidentified “intelligent designer.” (I think they secretly believe in aliens with advanced technology, but that is another discussion entirely.)

The Discovery Institute and its minions (read fundamentalist Christians) has been going around to state and local school boards urging them to “teach the controversy” between the two competing theories: evolution and intelligent design. It is “only fair” that the two most prominent theories of how man came to be be discussed.

Of course, there is no controversy in the sciences because there is no intelligent design theory. Their theory is that everything is the way it is because some all-powerful “designer” (wink, wink) made it that way. This is the equivalent of telling a child that “the fairies did it” but to an adult audience.

Anyway, the IDers approach is one appealing to “academic freedom” and “fairness.” This, of course, has nothing to do with academic freedom, which most folks totally ignorant of its roots don’t realize is a principle that teacher’s jobs should be protected from attacks on their politics. These morons, uh, Discovery Institute Fellows, think it means the freedom to teach any damned foolishness one wishes to; it is not. Professors can be fired for not teaching to a departmental syllabus. Plus academic freedom is rarely applied below the collegiate level.

The fairness argument is the one addressed by Professor Miller who pointed out that scientific theories are built brick by brick over a great deal of time with a great many people involved. The theory is advanced and evidence is proffered and people get a chance to test it out, confirm the evidence, posit other measurements and make them, etc. The key of this edifice is peer-reviewed publishing. Intelligent Design advocates haven’t gone through this process. Their theory grew like Topsy and it has produced no testable aspects, which makes it a non-theory. Even so, it claims equal footing with the Theory of Evolution. Cheeky bastards to say the least.

Miller’s point is that what they are calling “fairness” is really an “end run,” bypassing all the foolishness of peer-review and just being granted major theory status by acclimation. I liken it to a bizarre college football scenario. The entire season of Division 1A competition has occurred and the #1 and #2 teams have played off and a champion is about to be crowned, but then a Division 3A team from Seattle, Washington points out that there is quite a debate going on as to which is the better team: theirs or the about to be crowned national champion. And the interesting thing is that they aren’t asking for a playoff between the two teams, they simply want all of the sports pages of all of the newspapers and Sports Illustrated and ESPN, etc. to discuss the relative merits of the two teams. And they want all of our children to read it all.

Does that sound fair? Or even sane?

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