The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, August 22, 2005

Third-Wave Creationism and the War on the Courts

University of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne wrote a fantastic article on the "Intelligent Design" movement for The New Republic (subscription only), which I highly, highly recommend. Many of us continue to be dumbfounded at the continued ability of the fundamentalist right to rename the same old crap and try to force it onto our nation's children. I imagine that part of the problem is that the fundies are more committed to using weasely language than the public at large is to keeping on top of scientific usage of words. Words like "theory."

Not only does Coyne give a well-written and point by point refutation of the lunacy of creationism, but sprinkles it with all sorts of nifty scientific nuggets. Like this one: Our appendix is the vestigial remnant of an intestinal pouch used to ferment the hard-to-digest plant diets of our ancestors. (Orangutans and grazing animals have a large hollow appendix instead of the tiny, wormlike one that we possess.)

Beginning about halfway through the article, it turns into the book review that it is-- an anti-evolution piece of work, filled with easily debunked non-science. That part is fun, too.

Beyond the scope of the article is another aspect of the story that concerns me, and it's the aspect that the "Justice Sunday" events should drive home. The American courts have ruled over and over that evangelical North American Protestant dogma shouldn't be taught in publically funded schools, specifically science classes. Knowing that they aren't going to win by merely changing the name of the dog(ma), they're going go a step further and insist that members of the American judiciary be entitled to judge cases not on evidence and the rule of law, but on sectarian faith. And they're speaking openly in public about it. And they have the full support of prominent Republican politicians, like Tom DeLay and the president. How far have we come since the 1970's? Then it was suggested that we could bomb Vietnam "into the Stone Age." Now we're looking at voting ourselves into the same time period.

As the author points out: If the history of science shows us anything, it is that we get nowhere by labeling our ignorance "God."