October 10, 2005

There is Nothing Intelligent About 'Intelligent Design'

With federal courts hearing arguments over whether public school districts can include "intelligent design" in biology courses, it feels like the Scopes trial all over again. If you are reading this blog, I am fairly confident that you have been following this story with interest.

I haven't posted much about the evolution vs. creationism (intelligent design is nothing more than creationism with a scientific sounding label) debate here. As a scientist, I recognize that there is no controversy about evolution within the scientific community. Disagreements exists over the precise mechanisms and details of evolution, but no reputable scientists are questioning the accuracy of the overall theory. Without vocal groups of religious fanatics, there would be no controversy. Maybe part of me was hoping that this insanity would just go away. I should have known better.

On the surface, exposing students to many alternative viewpoints sounds good. The problem is that evolution is a robust theory with volumes of empirical support while creationism (no matter what they call it) is something of a bad joke. If we teach our children about "intelligent design," we should also teach them about demonic possession, flat earth theories, Holocaust denial, alien abduction, and countless other theories in which some people believe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

It is obvious that none of this belongs in the science curriculum. Evolutionary theory forms the foundation of modern biology and has had a profound influence on many other scientific fields. To deprive our children of this knowledge or to convey some sort of nonexistent controversy in order to push a religiously-based theory will have devastating consequences on our ability to train the scientists of the future.

To learn more about evolution, I highly recommend this site.

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