March 9, 2005

"We're not Creationists!" - (They just hang out on the same street corners)

It will surprise no one familiar with these issues that the leading "Intelligent Design" advocates continue to protest the qualification of their movement as "creationist" while so much of their media output stands as evidence to the contrary. It doesn’t matter that they do not believe in a 6000 year old earth (well, I guess some do), and it doesn’t matter whether or not they think there was a global deluge (well, I suppose some actually do), what matters is that they wish to force the Christian creator into those areas deemed to be evangelism-free zones.

And just as their more traditional brethren cannot understand why this should prompt such vehement reaction from the great unwashed, neither can the ID crowd at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture wrap their minds around such stubborn resistance. After all, it’s good for us.

A post over at the DI blog bemoans comments made in an AP article about ID. This short piece mostly frets over the legitimate question of "evidence for the designer" that ID proponents continue to dodge with their thoughtless and evasive "we can only detect evidence of the design" spiel. But near the beginning the author, in response to comments from Barbara Forrest, quips sarcastically (in reference to his movement),
"And they want to renew our culture!"
After all, what silly person could have reason to resist such a worthy objective?

Here’s the phrase from a 1999 Discovery fund-raising document to which Dr. Forrest was calling attention (and with which the poster apparently has no quibble),
"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."
Having read similar comments from many prominent ID leaders, including Dembski and Pearcey and Campbell just to name a few, I think it’s fair to treat the previous sarcastic sentiment as representative of the DI and the ID movement. As in the blog post, these comments are often couched in a kind of "why can’t they understand we’re only trying to help them" language.

Well I, for one, would prefer to have some input into how my culture is "renewed," thanks. It strikes me that having one’s culture renewed without one’s approval is somewhat akin to having one’s windshield unceremoniously appropriated and washed while waiting at a city light. (If I’d wanted it clean I’d have run my wipers, y’know, and hey, the light is green, and no I can’t make a donation.) I’d like to have a veto on any cultural coup d’etat that may leave unsupported some of the rights I wish to continue to enjoy.

To further explicate how we can be so misguided, the author links to an article written by DI Vice President Jay Richards called "Intelligent Design Theory: Why it Matters." In this article it is explained to us that,
"Darwin's theory was revolutionary because it banished the concept of intelligent design from biology, consigning it to a marginal theological ghetto."
"Others extended Darwin's ban on intelligent design to include the origin of life and the universe itself."
"If we are nothing more than the sum of chance, impersonal law and environment, then we are not free and responsible individuals, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. Because we are not free, we are not responsible; so, paradoxically, we can do whatever we "want.""
"The materialistic scheme dissolves our sense of responsibility for our actions as well as the ethical framework that makes our laws meaningful."
"What Darwinism and scientific materialism have dismantled, intelligent design theory could help restore."
Now I find it a bit worrisome that Richards doesn’t wish his theological notions to remain consigned to a "theological ghetto." I don’t like what that implies about the DI’s proposed new and improved culture. Of course the rest is a collection of tired canards about morality and responsibility and the depravity of materialism.

And if those quotes aren’t scary enough to make you want to keep the kids indoors, how about Richards’ disappointment with the Supreme Court’s declaration that Americans have the "right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life." Richards would prefer they had stuck with grounding the legal system in "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

Apparently according to Richards, and I can only assume most of the ID movement, it’s not okay for me to define my own concept of existence and meaning. And this is of course just one more way in which the ID crowd is no different from their more fundamentalist cousins. They wish us to believe as they do (or at least be damn miserable in our disbelief). They don’t even realize the implications of what they say, such is their metaphysical myopia. Some may actually believe that all they are asking for is to tweak the culture a bit so that it is more hospitable to their worldview, which, by the by, is the correct one. Just a little "renewal" is good for us all.

But when someone leans on your car and greases up the fenders while "renewing" the windshield it sort of pisses you off. Whether they call themselves "Intelligent Design" proponents or creationists, they’re all holding spray bottles. And they just can’t understand why we don’t want to drive past their corner.


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