Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Freedom of Inquiry Meets Darwinism

This article from the London Telegraph indicates that some college-level professors are interested in discussing "intelligent design" with their students.

Darwin's defenders go into battle again
Alec Russell (Filed: 31/12/2005)
James Colbert has been on the frontline of America's culture wars for 20 years but his hoped-for final victory of reason over faith is not yet in sight.
Emotions are running high in his faculty and others across America over i.d., as academics fight for control over the minds of the nation's youth. For decades America has been riven by "culture wars" over science, religion and law, all set against the background of the ancient US debate over the separation of church and state. Traditionally the most heated argument has been over abortion but creation has emerged as a similarly contentious issue.
Prof Colbert says most scientists ignored such arguments as coming from a lunatic fringe until August when President George W Bush backed teaching i.d. alongside evolution. Alarmed at what he saw as the growing influence of some i.d. supporters in the science faculty, Prof Colbert drafted a petition condemning "attempts to represent intelligent design as a scientific endeavour".

In response more than 40 Christian faculty and staff members signed a statement calling on the university to uphold their basic freedoms and to allow them to discuss
intelligent design.

That is how the discussion of intelligent design ought to be introduced into the classroom -- by the teacher, not by some stupid, dishonest school board members who want to make it a part of the required curriculum.

The people for whom Darwinian theory (that is, random mutations plus natural selection equals new species) is dogma consider as heresy the mere mention of the question whether a complex design suggests the existence of a designer.

Here is a similar article from the classroom version of The Wall Street Journal.

Overshadowed by attacks on evolution in high-school science curricula, intelligent design is gaining a precarious and hotly contested foothold in American higher education. Intelligent-design courses have cropped up at the state universities of Minnesota, Georgia and New Mexico, as well as Iowa State, and at private institutions such as Wake Forest and Carnegie Mellon. Most of the courses, like Mr. Ingebritsen's, are small seminars that don't count for science credit. Many colleges have also hosted lectures by advocates of the doctrine.
Intelligent design's beachhead on campus has provoked a backlash. Universities have discouraged teaching of intelligent design in science classes and canceled lectures on the topic. Last month, University of Idaho President Tim White flatly declared that teaching of "views that differ from evolution" in science courses is "inappropriate."
At Iowa State, where Mr. Ingebritsen teaches, more than 120 faculty signed a petition this year condemning "all attempts to represent intelligent design as a scientific endeavor." In response, 47 Christian faculty and staff members, including Mr. Ingebritsen, signed a statement calling on the university to protect their freedom to discuss intelligent design.

This could get really interesting. Does the government have unconstrained authority to tell a teacher or professor to shut up? Since it's OK to speculate about the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of species, why cannot that speculation include a discussion of the possibility that a "designer" was involved?


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