Monday, January 24, 2005

Teach the Controversy? Hell yes!

Fairly often I see pro-Darwinian evolution essays and articles railing against Intelligent Design being taught in our schools. These advocates for Evolution attempt to gun down the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools because it's bad science. Perhaps they're going about it backwards.

Under the banner of Intelligent Design, or ID, creationists assert that since there is disagreement about the veracity of Darwinian evolution, schools should "teach the controversy" about the subject. They claim that ID is shut out of the scientific dialog without due consideration.

While I agree with most the pro-evolution stance that the controversy is not actually a scientific controversy, and therefore the controversy should not be taught in schools, I think this may be worth considering a valid subject in the science classroom.

Of course, there would have to be some ground rules:
  1. The controversy that the Intelligent Design band is actually trying to perpetuate is that the universe has features that are irreducibly complex. To them, it is the evidence for this argument that should be taught. We can grant that, as long as...
  2. If we're going to bring in this counter-evidence, then the counter-evidence gets thorough examination. The dogmatic evidence against Darwinian evolution usually has fairly straightforward ways to discredit. (The eye remains one of the creationist's common counter-points, despite that it has long-since been shown to be an entirely vapid argument.) We should foster a healthy scientific framework that teaches children to have a skeptical worldview of all grandiose claims about how the universe exists. But that means...
  3. Science must be defined to children as an ongoing human quest to completely understand how the universe works. That means that in science there are no taboo questions, including whether God exists or not. Subsequently...
  4. Schools are required to get to the heart of the matter: It's not "Intelligent Design or Evolution." It's "God or no God." (And I assure you that the "no God" camp will have some pretty compelling points, given the skeptical framework that we would be teaching children...) What that means is...
  5. "Is there a God?" specifically gets addressed, with scientific inquiry on how one could prove or disprove God's existence. (And I'm cool with an inconclusive answer, so long as we teach genuine critical thinking to our children.)
What I am saying is, yes, let's get the controversy into the classroom. Indeed, the majority of the world's people believe in some kind of god. Part of living in this world means that your life will have government-imposed laws based upon belief in one religious doctrine or another. Understanding the case for God is really a fundamental part of life. So, shouldn't we be educating children on this strange concept of God and whether it holds any water?


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