Blogs > Liberty and Power > Intelligent Design in the Schools

Jun 6, 2005 8:45 am

Intelligent Design in the Schools

Since Darwin just missed making the now infamous Human Events 10 Most Harmful Books list, I suppose it's on topic with recent shouting matches around here to note that the attempt to teach"intelligent design" in public school science classes continues apace. The latest story comes from Michigan.

What struck me in this piece was the wisdom of a local pastor:
"It wasn't until creationism was ousted from public schools that intelligent design was brought in," said Mark Jennings, a Gull Lake Community Schools parent and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Richland."I've always thought the school should leave teaching about God to the church and we'll leave science to the schools."
Indeed. At the risk of invoking a libertarian cliche, it remains worth noting that controversies like this are the near-inevitable result of taxpayer-funded school systems. Often times the separation of Church and State can be accomplished quite effectively by the separation of School and State.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I guess that means that to evaluate ID, we have to turn to the philosophy department after all:

Stephen Francis Kislock III - 6/13/2005

Please read "Tripoli Treaty of Friendship", signed May 27, 1797 and Article 11.
"Separation of School and State" what do you (Steven Horwitz) mean?
A Curriculum, set by who?
Do we start with Genesis?
Creationism, Never Belonged in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS......
Read "Democracy and Education" by John Dewey!

Max Swing - 6/7/2005

Yes, science and philosophy can evantually beat bullsh**, aehh, I mean ID. But despite this we may not forbid people to get what they believe they need, even if we deemed at as BS. We can lecture them, but I think there are more important things than allowing ID being taught in religious classes. If the folks at school aren't bright enough to compare ID to real Science, then we will lose the battle anyway...

Roderick T. Long - 6/6/2005

Rand may have been a secularist, but her favourite philosopher was a theist and her second favourite philosopher was a Catholic saint.

Ralph E. Luker - 6/6/2005

The thanks was sincere and should be taken at face value. In fact, given the other things you say in response, I stand corrected about your having much of what seems to me to be a secularization agenda. That said, I suppose that I'm bound to have some differences with secularists, whether of the right or left, collectivist or individualist.

Steven Horwitz - 6/6/2005

I've read your comment at least twice Ralph and I'm still not sure if you are thanking me sincerely! (I have some self-doubt about my sense of humor these days. ;) ) If you are, presumably it is because I see wisdom in the pastor's admonition to keep God in the church and science in the schools.

In any case, any secularization I'm interested in involves a state that favors no particular set of religious beliefs. That doesn't necessarily mean the *absence* of religion from the public square, but that no one set of beliefs should be exclusive (e.g., I'm fine with a creche on public property as long as they'll let someone put up a menorah if they wish). I also have no problem with public schools being used *after school* for meetings of religious-oriented groups as long as they are voluntary and open to all faiths. Whatever my personal views on God and organized religion (don't believe in the former, find some potential usefulness in the latter, both socially and personally), far be it from me to deny the historical importance of religion or its power to my fellow citizens.

I have great respect for deeply religious people who understand that it is possible to have those deep beliefs and believe that the state should be out of the god business. Hardly the views of your stereotypical Randian I venture to think.

Ralph E. Luker - 6/6/2005

Thanks for posting this, Steve, because I think that it suggests, even by indirection, why someone like me would put Rand's work on a list of harmful books and why her admirers would be outraged by that. At bottom, for me, it is the heedless secularization enthusiasm of Rand's admirers that is, I think, harmful. I am, on most days, a conservative in the sense that I'm likely to see damage in programs for radical social change -- including secularization. Because I am a conservative, I also recognize faux-science, whether creation science or ID, to be false, misleading, and damaging responses to radical social change. So, I'm going to end up on your side of the battle in many cases, even as I think your (or Irfan's) basic enterprise of secularization a damaging one.
I have many colleagues at Cliopatria who are fairly devout secularists, but one of the early battles in our group was over whether religious believers would be allowed to post with us in the language of their faith. Fortunately, I think, broadly tolerant secularists remained with us and those who wouldn't tolerate religious language parted company with us.

Max Swing - 6/6/2005

But doesn't have ID a right to be teached at a public school (given that we at least accept public schools as such), because it is a non-provable theory. I think in science there is no provable theory, but only theories that have not yet been disproven.
I grant that ID is not in it a scientific theory, but nontheless a theory which in its repsect has a right to be chosen by people.

So, should schools allow ID to be taught in a specific class or in theology classes?

I grant that those theories can not be validated, but there is no evidence against that the creation of a universe might have a Creator behind it.
So, it is not a scientific theory, but still a theory with some explanatory device that might well work and should be presented to the people during a religious course, because otherwise it'd be a form of censorship?

Don't know if this is truly good, but I'd think that it is reasonable. Although I wouldn't advocate it, because I think ID is bullsh***

Sheldon Richman - 6/6/2005

Oops! HAVE retreated dramatically. Proofread! Proofread!

Sheldon Richman - 6/6/2005

Speaking of ID, the May 30 New Yorker has an excellent article by H. Allen Orr showing the problems with the alleged theory. What I found new in it is that the top ID theoreticians, Behe and Dembski, has retreated dramatically. The article is here.