Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Monday, January 31, 2005

"I just want my child to go to heaven."

My preference for discussing "intelligent design" ("ID"-- by the way, have the proponents of this theory run their acronym by any Freudians?) would simply state, "ID is NOT science; it is uncomposted crap."

Recognizing that my way would be completely unsatisfactory to ID's apologists and to those who don't know what to think, I should be happier that Newsweek's article on the "controversy" is pretty much balanced.

However, the first paragraph disadvantages science by setting it as something to be endured, but not understood.

When Joshua Rowand, an 11th grader in Dover, Pa., looks out from his high school, he can see the United Church of Christ across the street and the hills beyond it, reminding him of what he's been taught from childhood: that God's perfect creation culminated on the sixth day with the making of man in his image. Inside the school, he is taught that Homo sapiens evolved over millions of years from a series of predecessor species in an unbroken line of descent stretching back to the origins of life. The apparent contradiction between that message and the one he hopes someday to spread as a Christian missionary doesn't trouble him. The entire subject of evolution by natural selection is covered in two lessons in high-school biology. What kind of Christian would he be if his faith couldn't survive 90 minutes of exposure to Darwin?

The article then generally describes the controversy (which, to the scientific community, bears as much resemblance to a real "controversy" as Bush's depiction of the Social Security system as a "crisis" does to the economic community), touching on the push for evolution-disclaimer textbook stickers in such places as Dover, Pennsylvania, and Cobb County, Georgia.

Why do some people find evolution unsettling? An illustration in this paragraph:
[W]hile most Christians accept a God who set the universe in motion according to natural laws, evolution raises more difficult existential questions. People want to feel that God cares for them personally. British biologist Richard Dawkins has written that Darwin's theory "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." But that's not what most Americans want for their children. Margaret Evans, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, has studied religious beliefs in children and seen the appeal of creationism. "We are biased toward seeing the world as stable and purposeful," she says. "I don't know what to believe," one parent told her. "I just want my child to go to heaven."

Assuming, arguendo, that this parent is right in her concern for evolution theory's effect on her child's eternal soul, one has to ask, "What kind of deity would deny anyone the best of eternity for the simple 'error' of inquiry and knowledge?" Would we all not have lost our opportunity for a good afterlife long ago-- perhaps when we discovered that we could keep a vengeful G_d's plagues at bay by discovering their causes and immunizing against them, or by improving sanitation practices, or by designing and implementing measures to avoid harm from floods, fires, or other disasters? How about engineering buildings to make them more resistant to earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes? Are we offending some supernatural order by even when we investigate ways to warn against tsunamis?

Could we be damaging our chances at heaven by, say, creating a Department of Homeland Security to prevent a messenger of G_d from completing a mission?