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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Intelligent Design

You know what Intelligent Design is like? Back when computers had cassette tape drives instead of disk drives, my Dad put Michael Jackson's Thriller in the TI 99 4A Cassette Drive to see what the TI would make of it. Of course the answer was: nothing. As far as the TI was concerned there was no readable data on the tape. Not because there was nothing on the tape: the tape contained some of Quincy Jones's most commercially succesful music (and that Jackson guy.) Not because the computer was useless: it was great for spreadsheets, Zork, etc. The computrer could do nothing with the music because the computer could only function within a specific set of parameters, and no amount of naivete or wishful thinking could make it dance to Quincy's beat.

Science is that TI 99 4A, and God is that cassette of Thriller. Sorry, not God; the Intelligent Designer. Those Heritage Foundation drones have adopted denying Him three times before the cock crows as a key legal strategy.

And another thing that leaps to my mind when I think of ID: the first edition AD&D Deities and Demigods sourcebook. AD&D rules statistically quantified the strength, intelligence, heath etc. of all the characters and monsters in the game, and so the Deities and Demigods sourcebook, devoted to mythological figures whom one might wish to incorporate into the game, tried to quantify mythological figures in a comically procrustian fashion.

Science is all about the measurable, the quantifiable, the testable. I was raised to believe God can't be measured or quantified, and that He Himself declared "Do not put The Lord Your God to the test." Trying to shoehorn God into science per se is like the D&D sourcebook declaring that Zeus has 400 hit points. It's a heretical reductionism, a confusion of catagories, that may be well intentioned but belittles God and coarsens science.

But wait, they say. "Teach the controversy." What controversy? The philosophical controversy about whether or not God made the universe is perfectly legit for a philosophy class; the subject of the controversy is fine for a social studies class. But there's no real scientific controversy here. Just because the IDs have duped one or two tenured activist professors into siding with them doesn't mean that the scientific community is really split over ID, any more than the existence of a few tenured history teachin' holocaust deniers means that there's any legit controversy over the reality of the Holocaust. "Teach the controversy." Harumph. Any controversy that was whipped up in a right-wing think tank isn't a controversy; it's a distraction.


FLT3 said...


As a Christian, and a reasonably intelligent, educated adult, I applaud your insight.

The beauty of science is that it sets the rules, defines reality, and creates existence as we know it.

The beauty of God is that He looks at that reality from "outside the box." Maybe what God called "six days" is equivalent to what we call "six million years," who knows? The bottom line is that despite all the foofaraw about "the controversy," one half of the argument is based on faith, and the other half on hard science...and those are two very different (although not mutually exclusive) worlds.

I'm rambling now...anyway, as always, a beautifully written and eloquent observation. I enjoy reading your posts.


Aaron White said...

Hey Frank, I'vre been spending some of my holiday free time trying to figure out why I get so cranky over this issue; after all, most of the folks pulling for ID are good-hearted folks, and I know they mean well. Furthermore I wouldn't spend two minutes a month thinking about evolution if it weren't under such constant attack. I haven't figured out why this bugs me yet, but I think it may be related to the mutual coarsening of religion and science that can happen when we make hasty attempts to make everything simple and compatable. It's like when the clergy persecuted Galileo; they thought his theories where a threat to God, but they were only a threat to certain ideas about how God handles things.