On Bush's creation idea

Larry Gasch, an acquaintance of mine, recently wrote a couple of "letters to the editor" on "Intelligent Design" (ID) that appeared in "OPINE," the opinion section of the Star Beacon -- the largest (and only) daily newspaper in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Both letters, in my opinion, were exceptionally well written and pierced straight to the heart of the controversy surrounding this issue.

I called Larry and he agreed to let me post his letters here. This first letter was published in the August 13 issue of the Star Beacon in response to a "pro-ID" article that appeared earlier in the week. Since this newspaper does not archive its stories or opinion pieces on its website, I cannot provide a corroborating link. -- WM


Kathleen Parker’s “Conservative View” column of Monday, August 8, addressed President George W. Bush’s comments about allowing “intelligent design” (ID) to be discussed in schools. She correctly observes that Pres. Bush did not specifically endorse ID, rather, he emphasized the free discussion of opposing ideas. Nevertheless, it should be no secret that Pres. Bush pledges his allegiance to the preachers of ID.

Yet Parker states, “What would be the harm in inviting discussion of this new theory alongside others that have the imprimatur of modern science?” She does have a point. My son in Chicago recently sent me the answer to Parker’s question. It goes like this.

Bush told a group of reporters that he feels intelligent design should be discussed in schools. So do I. What the President didn’t say was how it should be discussed, and so, in the spirit of public service, I offer my own intelligent design curriculum, which should be inserted about midway in the two weeks sixth-graders spend learning about evolution and Darwinism. The teacher should sit on his desk, sigh mightily, and say:

"OK, kids, as we know, life on Earth evolved over billions of years, from tiny, one-celled organisms gradually evolving into the complex animals we see today. The fossil record and biological evidence clearly supports this understanding of our world and most scientists endorse it.

“Except, of course, those whose religious faith overwhelms their reason. They cleave to a belief they call intelligent design - basically the notion that, gosh, the world is so darn complex that God had to make it, He just had to. There isn’t any scientific basis for this - it’s the Genesis story from the Bible with a few facts picked out of nature and hung on it like Christmas ornaments, plus whatever inconsistencies in evolution they can find.

“Well, of course, religious faith is a wonderful thing, and in this country everyone is free to believe that the universe was laid as an egg from the Great Cosmic Turtle, as people do.

“But that doesn’t make it scientific fact, and it shouldn’t be taught as an alternative, or an option, or a theory, or anything beyond the vapor of religious dogma it is. Some of your parents might disagree, but you should tell them that there’s plenty of time in church for Bible study, and that it’s only the worst kind of zealous triumphalism that inspires them to try to drape their religious fantasies in a veil of mock science and sneak it into school.”

I quite agree with my son. However, I would go so far as to say ID might be taught in, say, a history class as an example of an historical phenomenon. It might be taught in a sociology class as an example of the debate between competing ideas. It might be taught in a current events class as, goodness knows, it is current. But, most appropriately, it might be taught in a literature class as an example of the power of mythology or fantasy to cloud the critical thinking of otherwise rational people. One thing above all else is certain, intelligent design should never be taught in any science class as it has nothing to do with science.

Lawrence E. Gasch

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