October 3, 2005

To Debate or Not to Debate Intelligent Design?

It's always easy to make fun of those you disagree with, to ridicule them, to belittle them and, ultimately, to dehumanize and despise them. Unfortunately, this is all too common a strategy these days in what passes for political discourse. Now, this isn't a politcal blog and I won't bore everyone with my rants on that subject. On the other hand, it's probably not too hard to guess where I fall on the evolution vs. intelligent design debate.

Rants and raves never change anyone's minds, they really only create defensiveness and a hardening of opinion. So, how to approach such a controversial and impassioned issue with the idea of changing people's minds but without creating an operatic, bombastic, inconclusive, polarizing debate?

Gerald Graff has an idea: Teach the Controversy.


Tom said...

A better use of "teach the controversy" would be to teach the evidence against an Intelligent Designer. Fair is fair. If "Intelligent Design" is really scientific, the existence of the "Designer" must be a scientific question as well, and can and should be discussed in science.

Norma said...

"On the other hand, it's probably not too hard to guess where I fall on the evolution vs. intelligent design debate"

Because? Your education? Your position? Your religion?

I'm a retired science librarian and I'm a 6 day creationist. I'm not the least bit threatened by IDers and/or evolutionists and wonder why they get spooked so easily and never think outside the box.

John Dupuis said...

Thanks for the comments.

A pertinent quote from Graff's article: "If the goal of education is to get students to think, then just telling students their doubts about Darwin are wrong is not going to be effective. And teachers being forced to engage their religious critics and explain why they believe in evolution might be a healthy thing for those teachers."

I think that this is the way to go -- place ID in a scientific context and show that it isn't a scientific idea but a religious one.

Norma, I apologise for being needlessly coy. I should have been upfront about what I believe and why. I support the evolution side of the argument completely on the basis that evolution is a scientific idea that can be proven or disproven on the basis of evidence. Creationism in all its forms is a religious idea. And being religious idea, its validity is not connected to facts but to faith.

I understand that by definition a person that believes in God must believe in some sort of ID -- that the universe was created on purpose and for a purpose. For me, to reconcile the requirements of faith and of science, we can imagine that when God created the universe, s/he created a universe that works, that makes sense, that is internally consistent. In other words, God created a universe in which s/he cannot be proven to exist but whose existence must be taken on faith.

And one thing I will remain mute on is my possible religious affiliation and whether or not I am a believer.