Intelligent Design vis-a-vis Public Schools

In a recent blog, Larry Keeling, resident guru of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., offered this wisdom: U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III nailed it in the Dover, Pa., "intelligent design" case. Creationism by any other name still isn't science. Notwithstanding the claim of a number of respected scientists that there is ample evidence to support the Intelligent Design concept, Keeling has a point in noting the judge’s statement.

Those who demand that ID be “taught” in public schools may do well to concede that it needs to be handled in classes that deal more with the abstract than with the tangible, i.e., that ID is more readily understood as a “belief” than as a proven concept. Since philosophy, as such, is not usually a public-school subject, and with good reason, there is little opportunity for the discussion of ID. Perhaps it could be part of the sociology/psychology/history curriculum or as part of any classes dealing with the arts – music, poetry, painting – particularly since a huge segment, probably the largest body of works in the arts, has been conceived within the context of spiritual convictions, Christian, Jewish, and otherwise. It should also be noted that the theory of evolution, which is hammered into students, provides no clue as to “how it all came about,” and the student is welcome to accept it as primary or not – it’s a matter of belief, the same as with ID.

This is not to say that ID lacks credibility as a scientific matter. On merit alone, Intelligent Design can stand quite solidly. From a purely practical standpoint, anyone with walking-around-sense can look at his surroundings and at least wonder about ID, perhaps even enough to make it an object of investigation, quite apart from any concept of God. Or, anyone who has sat in a physics or chemistry or physiology or botany class can hardly escape noticing the intricate design of the planet and its inhabitants, organic and otherwise. Quite aside from this is the fact that scientists held in high repute insist that ID is for real and offer cogent arguments proving it. While there is no argument against the theory of evolution or the fact of it – with respect to things non-human – it has never been established scientifically or otherwise that human beings have evolved from a lower form of life. The “AHA! GOTCHA!” pronouncements that routinely come from the anthropologists who claim to be getting closer to it never eventuate in noting the discovery of that elusive “missing link” that is vital to connecting the long-tailed apes that can eat tree-bark quite well, thank you, with the no-tailed homo sapiens, who gag upon a bit of grass (even spinach).

Actually, no one who has ever lived – or who has bothered to remark it, in any case – has had a clue as to the actual science or method of the beginnings of things. The “Big Bangers” are silent now, since the Big Bang theory just doesn’t cut it. Neither does any other. For the believer in the God of the Holy Scriptures, there is good reason that no one will ever discover the beginnings, namely that to do so would equate a mere human with God. Such a person could create his/her own universe, a possibility too remote even to reflect upon. For the atheist, there’s no problem, since he/she is interested only in the “scientific process,” if any at all, a process that can titillate at best, but never deliver the eternal answer.

Those who rail against even a slight mention of Intelligent Design being made in public schools on the basis of its religious overtones would do well to remember that ID, in and of itself, need not respect or even remark God or the god(s) of any faith (or non-faith) group. This fact should remove the 1st Amendment fear of those who claim ID is merely Creationism warmed over, assuming Creationism to be irrevocably connected to the God of the Bible. There need be no allusion to the initiator of Intelligent Design. There need only be an investigation of the “how” and “when” of the planet, perhaps, with absolutely no conclusions as to the “who” or “what,” with respect to whatever force, if any, has been responsible for the world, its components, and even the entire universe(s). In other words, there need be only the suggestion that students examine the evidence available and then make up their minds, if so inclined, as to whatever force has been at work.

Those who inveigh loudly against ID on the basis that it promotes religion do so, at least in part, because the treasured concept of evolution simply has not come up with any definitive answers for the presence of mankind in this world or even the location, time, nature, or anything else definitive about the “first things.” Indeed, the theory (and it’s just a theory) contains no explanation for the “beginnings,” not even that first one-cell amoeba allegedly scrambling out of the mire, if there was such a thing or if there was such a mire, to evolve into whatever into whatever into whatever, ad infinitum. Each new “discovery” only points to incomprehensible billions of other forms of matter, which in the next gazillions of years will point to other forms. Will anyone ever discover the actual nature of the beginnings? Of course not, but ALL theories should be presented in some form during the educational process, no matter how reasonable-seeming or how silly.

In this corner, the initiator of everything is believed to be God of the Holy Scriptures, but no pretense is offered as to how the Creation or any part of it came into being or when or where or how or why. Ancillary to this belief is that there is life after death provided for by the Creator – God Almighty. The answers come then, and that is enough.