Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monkey Trial all over again

Latest episode in the evolution vs. Intelligent Design smackdown to take place in Pennsylvania, starting this week.

I really don't care if they want to teach Intelligent Design in addition to Evolution in schools. Provided they point out the tomes upon tomes and fossil records that support Darwin and the cricket song that supports I.D. And, perhaps more importantly - that they also teach other non-scientific, non-Christian creation "theories". Like those of Native Americans.

The Apache myth sounds eerily like Intelligent Design, doesn't it? "In the beginning was only Tepeu and Gucumatz (Feathered Serpent). These two sat together and thought, and whatever they thought came into being. They thought Earth, and there it was. They thought mountains, and so there were. They thought trees, and sky, and animals etc, and each came into being. But none of these things could praise them, so they formed more advanced beings of clay. But these beings fell apart when they got wet, so they made beings out of wood, but they proved unsatisfactory and caused trouble on the earth. The gods sent a great flood to wipe out these beings, so that they could start over. With the help of Mountain Lion, Coyote, Parrot, and Crow they fashioned four new beings. These four beings performed well and are the ancestors of the Quiché. "

So does the Maya. And the Norse. Chinese. African, etc. All "theories" of higher beings who created or made the world fit for human habitation. Bonus - most also include a myth of a great deluge.

But please - do not call it "science" unless you precede it with "social" or follow it with "fiction". And make sure you give equal time to the "theories" of other ancient cultures besides Judeo-Christian-Muslim.

I really, really do not understand the Right's insistance on trying to get Intelligent Design labelled as a viable scientific theory. In fact, I think they're shooting themselves in the foot by doing so. Science is only meaningful when placed into practical application. In the laboratory. So I have 2 questions for the I.D. community: 1) How do you propose to prove this "theory" using the scientific method; and 2) what do you plan to do with that information?

Getting them to answer these questions takes them somewhere I don't think they really want to go: Cloning. Genetic Engineering. Global Warming. Mankind playing God. Pure and simple. In fact, you can take those legitimate scientific disciplines as proof that an intelligent being can create life, manipulate global climate and manipulate the laws of evolution. By doing so, it is perfectly reasonable to speculate that a more advanced being may have created us. Or terra-formed an inhospitable world to make it safe for us. We do it to lesser species everytime we create a pretty hybrid tulip. Or breed Dachsunds. Or clone kitty cats. The difference, of course is everytime we do that we also prove Darwin in the process. But you could argue that we also prove I.D.

But if they introduce Intelligent Design as a legitimate scientific field of study, what are they going to use as their textbook on the subject? Can I nominate author David Brin's "Uplift Saga" series?? Sci-Fi for the fundies. Sounds like a plan to me. Next up maybe some Heinlein?.

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