Dear Concerned Citizen,
Recently, President Bush raised some eyebrows during a round-table interview with reporters. Prodded about his views of the origin of life and what he thought of the Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design debate, Bush reluctantly said,
“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas; the answer is yes.”
As expected, Bush’s comments were immediately met by howls of indignation that the President was mixing pure science (Darwinism) with pure religion (Intelligent Design). Such mixing is an intellectual and political no-no, they warn.
Intellectually, there is no place for God in science, or even the merest hint of an intelligent cause. All apparent “design” in nature must be explained only in terms of the twin powers of chance and material necessity, as prodded and kneaded by natural selection. Politically, as we all know, the Constitution absolutely forbids any mention of God in the classroom (or if we do mention God, it better be in a religion classroom in a private school, not receiving any funding from the federal government).
So they say. So we are told.
But perhaps it isn’t as simple as that. Let’s begin with Darwinism. Is it really a pure science…or is it, by design, a view of science “purified” of any reference to God? Not purified because science demands it, but because a particular secularist ideology or worldview demands it?
I am suggesting a parallel to our political situation. The First Amendment of our Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” The obvious meaning: Don’t establish a state church either directly (as the Anglicans did in England) or indirectly by outlawing all but the favored denomination.
We are now told–obvious appearances to the contrary–that this statement means that all mention of God must be actively and zealously stripped from the public square. In short, politics must be “purified” of religion. And that means: no mention of God in the classroom, especially in the science classroom; no mention of design in biology, for that would imply a Designer. Thus, only “pure” Darwinism may be taught, which by definition eliminates the need for a Creator. No questions asked, because none are allowed.
There is a pattern here, if we step back and view things in its larger historical context. Both the exclusion of religion from politics and the intellectual exclusion of intelligent design from biology are part of a larger, more comprehensive, well-planned secularizing project. Over the last several centuries, secularists have been intent on stripping God from public life; Darwinism provides the scientific mandate for the project.
Think that’s too strong a claim? Grist only for right-wing, know-nothing conspiracy theorists?
Consider carefully the following interesting statement made by a very reputable molecular biologist, Franklin Harold.
“We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity; but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”
Harold is a magnificent biologist who has written one of my favorite books on the glories of the cell, The Way of the Cell. The Way of the Cell is a long argument against the reductionism inherent in Darwinism…yet Harold still takes the side of Darwin. It is clear that he has been indoctrinated against design. Why?
The entire of Darwin’s argument rests on its ability to provide detailed accounts of biological systems. Darwin made a bet against design. He admitted living things certainly appeared to be so complex that only a divine intelligence could have been their cause, but he bet that natural selection, continually choosing the most fit utterances from “the dialogue of chance and necessity,” could explain the bit by bit build-up of any and every biochemical system.
After a century and a half, we’re faced with “only a variety of wishful speculations” and we think Darwin has won the bet? Why are “wishful speculations” any more than a protracted sigh of faith, a confession of hope for things yet unseen?
We’re not dealing then with a controversy between science and religion, but a clash between two faiths, two religions. One is the religion of Secularism that demands unbelief in God, evidence or no evidence. Witness the oft-quoted words of Darwinian biologist Richard Lewontin (interestingly, another trenchant critique of the reductionism of his fellow Darwinists).
“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a prioriadherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Lewontin claims that we must be materialists because “To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”
This is, of course, a real fear, but a false claim. To argue that things in nature are designed is precisely to focus on their evident, regular, and complex order. But the materialist’s fear of miracle, that is certainly quite real, and we are right to be suspicious that there’s more than meets the ear in the howls of indignation at President Bush’s words.