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Politically astute scientific naturalists feel no hostility toward those religious leaders who implicitly accept the key naturalistic doctrine that supernatural powers do not actually affect the course of nature. In fact, many scientific leaders disapprove of aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins, who seem to be asking for trouble by picking fights with religious people who only want to surrender with dignity.
But the ID theorists do not go gentle into that good night. That’s what’s different about intelligent design. ID says that the best evidence we have shows that life is the product of a real intelligent agent, actually working in space and time, and that the designer’s hand can be detected, scientifically and mathematically, by what we know about the kinds of things that are produced only by intelligence. It is making scientific claims about the real world. Because it relies on objective fact and scientific reasoning, ID seeks admission to the public square. Rather than retreating to the gaseous realm of the subjective, it challenges the materialist conception of science on its own turf. It thus threatens materialism generally, with all that that entails for morality, law, culture — and even for what it means to be human.
THOSE WHO NOW OCCUPY the public square will fight to keep possession of it. The advocates of Darwinian materialism believe that they are in possession of The Truth, and are perfectly willing to invoke the power of the state to suppress competing views, as the Dover suit shows.
Richard Dawkins, again, exemplifies the mindset. Long before the Dover suit, he argued that libel laws (much more formidable in England than here) should protect “objective truth,” and should punish “lies that may not damage particular people but damage truth itself.” He would extend legal sanctions to “all deliberate falsifications, misrepresentations, of scientific truth.” Why should an individual have to be damaged, he wonders, before we “prosecute a book which wantonly publishes lies about the universe”?
Just what might constitute “lies about the universe?” Dawkins makes no secret of his “contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion.” In a recent article co-authored with an American professor, Dawkins asserts that intelligent design is “not a scientific argument at all” — sound familiar? — “but a religious one.” Allowing students even to be made aware that there is a controversy between ID and Darwinism “conveys the false, and highly pernicious, idea that there really are two sides.” If just a mention of ID were to be allowed into the classroom, he predicts ominously, “that would be the end of science education in America.”
I doubt it. Science has always prided itself on following the evidence wherever it leads. If intelligent design’s arguments are false, they will, over time, be refuted decisively. But what if the evidence truly supports design? Should that evidence be ignored, defined as “not science,” and suppressed through the court system, simply because a materialist worldview cannot accept even the possibility of a designer? In the words of design theorist Stephen Meyer, science “should not be looking for only the best naturalistic explanation, but the best explanation, period.”
For many centuries, the best explanation of the origin of life and the lawfulness of the universe was thought to be design, which was not considered inconsistent with science at all. Matthew Arnold, nevertheless, presciently foresaw the direction the tides would flow in the 19th century, and well into the 20th. But of the three theories that seemed so potent during that period — Marxism, Freudianism, Darwinism — two have already been washed away by history. Will Darwin’s theory be next? If so, the materialist worldview is at stake, and the materialists know it.
And that’s why intelligent design is such a big deal.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?