I don’t suppose your readers want these exchanges to go on forever, so I shall limit myself here to Tom Bethell’s point about creationism and Intelligent Design, and then sign off. The exchanges we should otherwise inevitably descend into can be found all over the Internet, and don’t need duplicating in your letters columns.
Intelligent Design is creationism. This has been proved to courtroom standards of evidence. It is, in any case, transparently obvious a priori.
If a group of creationists were to hire me as an independent consultant, and say to me: “Look, we’ve got a problem with getting our doctrines taught in public schools. Every time we try it, there’s a court case, and we lose on church-state grounds. Can you give our doctrines a makeover, stripping out all references to God and the Bible, giving it all a scientific-sounding gloss, so that just one time, somewhere, we might have a shot at winning one of those cases?” Given that commission, Intelligent Design is exactly what I would come up with. It is what the creationists did come up with.
Who is the designer? If he’s part of the natural world, he needs to be more intelligent than the things he’s designing. But then who designed him? You get an infinite regress. The only way out of that infinite regress is to invoke some force outside the natural world. Ergo, Intelligent Design is supernaturalist. Q.E.D.
And I can’t see why the makeover was necessary. Personally, I consider myself sentimentally well-disposed towards Christianity, and by no means ill-disposed towards pseudoscience, as a form of entertainment. Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science has been a favorite on my bookshelf for decades, going back to my schooldays in Britain (where it stood next to Patrick Moore’s Can You Speak Venusian? another favorite compendium of quackery). I often browse in it for idle amusement.
Not only do I not object to pseudoscience, I don’t even object if people want to teach it to kids. Heck, it’s a free country. What I object to, and what a great many other citizens — including many conservatives — object to, is creationists trying to get pseudoscience taught on the taxpayer’s dollar.
As a conservative myself, I have issues with the public school system, though they are not the same issues as yours. I favor educational diversity. Go set up your own schools and teach Intelligent Design, or the Hollow Earth Theory, or Homeopathic Medicine. Heaven knows, you have enough money. Or get behind the home-schooling movement, where you might make real progress in promoting your cult. (I think in fact you have.) Good luck to you! Just keep your hands off my wallet.
The science taught in public schools should be consensus science, the science most working scientists believe in. What’s the alternative? To teach everything that has a following somewhere? Public-school parents don’t want that; and in any case, such a program could not be fitted into a school curriculum. Don’t you understand? Even a parent who knew or cared nothing about creationism could validly object to its being taught in the public schools for fear of what might follow in through the door thus opened. If creationism can be taught, why not Astrology? Why not phrenology? Why not 19th-century race science? Why not, Mr. Bethell?
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?
H/T to National Review Online