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Wading Into Intelligent Design

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Yes, this is another bonehead’s opinion on “Intelligent Design,” but before you turn the page, there are some political issues in Colorado now in play with the whole evolution vs. creationism battle.

But first, let me get this out in front: I have no problem with teaching intelligent design.

However — and that’s a big one, so don’t miss it — HOWEVER, intelligent design should absolutely not be taught in science class. You can’t give me a valid argument that this should be taught in science class any more than you can argue with me that intelligent design should be a core part of the algebra curriculum. It’s not science. It’s not. Sorry.

Intelligent design is a non-scientific theory being pushed by religious groups, and that’s what the federal judge (a confessed churchgoing conservative) had to say yesterday in Pennsylvania. If intelligent design is not science, it should not be taught in science class any more than long division should be taught in English class. That, to me, is the bigger argument here: if it’s not science, don’t try to ram it into the science curriculum. If it’s not about math, don’t try to ram it into a math class. If you want to teach intelligent design, suggest it as a curriculum addition to a philosophy or sociology class.

This whole argument reminds me of that scene in “Monthy Python and the Holy Grail” where they decide that if a woman weighs more than a duck and can’t swim like a duck, then she must be a witch, because she can’t be a duck (or something like that — it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie). Heck, why don’t we just let anyone with an idea about how the earth was created go ahead and petition to teach it in schools? Are people pushing this idea saying that there should be no burden of proof on what is and is not correct? What if I believe, because of my religious beliefs, that 2+2 actually equals 4? Do I have the right to request that schools teach my addition theory alongside the “traditional” way of teaching addition?

Again, there is a place for this discussion: in a philosophy class, not a science class.


Okay, now the Colorado and political angle. Today we hear that Republican Sen. Greg Brophy wants to introduce legislation that would allow Colorado schools to teach intelligent design in science class. Forget for a moment that I disagree with the whole premise, because from a political perspective this is a monumentally stupid idea. In fact, I imagine that Republican leaders around Colorado are closing their eyes and willing him right now to be quiet, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.

For one thing, take a look at what happened to the school board members in Dover, Pennsylvania, who wanted intelligent design taught in science class. Eight of them were kicked out of office and replaced with Democratic candidates who promised to remove it from the science curriculum. There are isolated, conservative red states like Kansas that can do this sort of thing, but in Colorado, which is very much a purple state, the reaction to Brophy’s proposal is likely to be similar to what happened in Dover. Brophy also doesn’t even have the benefit of a strong argument – not that he did before – after the Pennsylvania judge wrote more than 100 pages about why intelligent design as science was wrong and was a strictly religious based idea (and church, you’ll recall, is supposed to be separate from state).

If Brophy proceeds with this, he’ll be handing Democrats a big shiny sword with which to cut him down, and several fellow Republicans, in the 2006 elections. Republicans are trying to take back the state legislature, and they can’t do it if they have people running around promoting unpopular ideas that have been soundly trounced in other states. Stick to real issues, like the budget, education and immigration, or the voters will surely find someone who will.

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