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Public Theology: Intelligent Design is Politics not Science
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Intelligent Design is Politics not Science
A 'Wedge Document' from the Discovery Institute in Seattle demonstrates that the so-called Intelligent Design or Creation Science movement is wholly fundamentalist politics.

The Discovery Institute in Seattle is one of the leading proponents of what they now call "Intelligent Design" (used to be Creation Science), the idea that the universe is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligence external to itself, or God. The wonder of nature has been for many, many people a motivating factor for belief in God. That's why it is particularly obnoxious that a group has decided to exploit that natural tendancy to support what is really a fundamentalist political movement. (See the article by Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian for current debates going on in Kansas where science teachers may be forced to teach intelligent design).

The Discovery Institute some time back published a "Wedge Document" (if this link doesn't work use this) explained as follows: "If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a 'wedge' that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points."

Notice the term "materialistic science." This is defined as the theories of "Darwin, Marx, and Freud," as if these references represent all the teaching modern science. It is against those theories that the institute is waging its crusade. "This materialist conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art." This has resulted in "moral relativism" and "materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth."

Now, that certainly sounds like a political program more than a credible view of the role of science in society. What the institute wants is this: "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."

So, what they really oppose is a "worldview". And they see everything from a bipolar perspective: either you believe in God (as they understand God) or you are a terrible secular humanist that opposes God and promotes materialism. This is simplistic nonsense.

It helps them get funding by claiming that the "image of God" is a bedrock principle that lays at the foundation of free enterprise, which is called one of the "West's greatest achievements." Free enterprise is not one of those secular, materialist principles, it is based on the image of God. Just exactly how they explain the logic of these connections is not stated, but it is one of the assumptions of fundamentalist politics, and one of the reasons these programs receive so much funding today.

All people of faith should reject this crass effort to manipulate both faith and science for political purposes. Religion doesn't belong in the science classroom. However, it is entirely possible to teach religion in public schools and many school districts around the country support such efforts. One group, People for the American Way, for example, actively encourages such teaching: "People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) supports teaching students about religion. Most authorities agree that teaching students about religion is part of a good education. Such instruction can and does take place appropriately in courses such as comparative religion, the history of religion, world history, and American history. Efforts by the Religious Right to inculcate students with sectarian beliefs, however, have no place in our public schools."


Note: If you are a "young earth" proponent (earth created in six days), you may want to consider reading a paper by a layperson called The Bible & Science...What's a Christian to Do! which reviews the whole issue in detail from an evangelical perspective, including historical origins of the various theories. The paper concludes:

"I will be the first to admit that a 'true' knowledge of origins is not a prerequisite to accepting salvation (at least not to all). But the young Earth proponents (like Ham and Morris) come VERY close to claiming that if you don't believe in their interpretations - you're going to hell. It would appear they approve of turning the age issue into a litmus test for being Christian. Should we be so quick to draw lines into the sand? Cannot we accommodate different interpretations of the more controversial areas of the Bible?"

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Date Added: 2/1/2005 Date Revised: 2/7/2005 11:39:20 AM

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