Monday, January 22, 2007

Religion in the Public Sphere: The Incursion on Science

It's been done to death in the news and in the courtroom, and repeated setbacks in both the public eye and the legal sphere have yet to deter proponents of "intelligent design." In case you haven't heard, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit, is claiming that parts of the ruling of Judge John E. Jones III against the inclusion of ID in science classrooms was copied from a series of ACLU motions filed on behalf of the plaintiffs. The spokesman for the institute claims that the use of ACLU text undercuts the credibility of Jones's ruling.

As of when? It is standard legal procedure - two hundred years of American legal precedent - for presiding jurists to cite motions made by attorneys in cases over which they preside. This aside, why are people still giving this idea credence as "scientific?" It is creationism couched in scientific terms; however, the use of a set vocabulary does not render a statement scientific, rather, it makes it propagandistic: use scientific-sounding language to fool people who don't know better, rinse, and repeat. You now have a movement! Congratulations!

The underlying premise of ID is that life is so complex that its design had to originate from some higher intelligence. Science requires that theories be testable based on observable criteria. Believe in evolution or not, you cannot observe or test for the presence of a higher intelligence. You can (theoretically) observe fossil changes, document the state of existing organisms, geography, geology, and wait for a few million years to see if they change - the nature of data storage being what it is, it's not impossible.

This is my first post in a while - so I won't run off at the word processor forever. I'll be back with more soon.
currently on my (new & improved) iPod - Carl Orff, "Chramer Gip die Varwe Mir" - from Carmina Burana

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