Monday, September 22, 2008

Carol Hunt on ID and Evolution

Carol Hunt has written a piece on the climate of evolution that is alluded to in Kenneth Miller's new book Only a Theory. She alone seems to have understood exactly what Michael Reiss said about teaching creationism:

Earlier last week, the UK media pounced on comments made by Professor Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society -- one of the world's oldest existing scientific organisations -- and forced his resignation.

Seemingly, the poor misguided man -- a biologist and a Church of England minister -- said that teachers should take the time in science class to explain why creationism had no scientific basis. So what's wrong with that? Plenty, screamed his colleagues. Why not spend time explaining why Bertrand Russell's teacup isn't actually orbiting Venus? Or why the flying spaghetti monster isn't living on Mars? A journalist from the Observer pointed out: "The prospect of such ignorance spreading to Britain quite rightly appalls scientists."

She has taken a somewhat jaundiced view of the new ID movement, arguing:

There has never been a better time to promote nonsensical and dangerous claptrap and get away with it, because we are all so afraid of "offending" other people's religious and cultural sensibilities. Moral, cultural and scientific relativism is in, and validated; empirical "truth" is out.

Today everyone is allowed to be an expert, as long as they "believe" in what they are saying. Gut feeling is everything, and to hell with the experts. So what if the scientists tell us that creationism -- or its well-dressed first cousin, Intelligent Design -- is not supported by any evidence whatsoever and therefore as likely to be as real as the Tooth Fairy?

And, with today's instant communication, it takes minutes to find other like-minded souls who also believe incredible things before breakfast.

Get enough people believing in Thetans or aliens or spaghetti monsters or whatever, and soon you can tout for cash -- or votes.

She is likely correct. Kenneth Miller argues that, until the ID movement came about, science was able to practice in an apolitical environment. By attaching anti-religiosity to the science of evolution, the movement has gained momentum. Whether this will work in ID's favor in the long run remains to be seen.

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