Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Proposed religion class labels creationism as 'mythology'

College course seeks to debunk intelligent design. Or, as the subtitle reads, "Proposed religion class labels creationism as mythology."

Let me start by saying that I have no problem with the right of faculty at the University of Kansas to offer this course. I support academic freedom and the right of faculty to choose what they want to teach. Further, a course examining intelligent design from a religion department seems appropriate.

I will not argue that intelligent design is science. It is not. It does not conform to the western method of inquiry known as the scientific method.

However, I take umbrage at the notion that intelligent design is mythology. It is not. It is a philosophy which does not necessarily require any religious belief at all. Mythology is not a bad thing. Myths can teach us a lot about life. But intelligent design theory is not mythology and to call it such is intellectually dishonest.

The world is complex and the odds against life developing on any planet seemed stacked. Hence, it is not a leap of faith to postulate that perhaps some intelligent force may have guided the development of life on Earth. This designer need not be a god. It could have been aliens or a super genius named Bob. It could also have been a diety from the Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, or Hindu belief systems. Or it could be some designer beyond the ability of mortals to grasp and understand at all.

As such, intelligent design is not religion although it can be studied from a religious frame just as it can be studied from a sociological or psychological frame. There can be religious aspects to it but they are not required. That is why it is more philosophy than anything else.

Acknowledging the possibility of an intelligent designer does not harm the scientific education of students. If students have a good grounding in science including evolutionary theory, they can still be well educated critically thinking students. Intelligent design philosophy will not prevent engineers from building sound buildings, chemists from discovering new elements, or doctors from finding new cures for cancer.

As such, I can only assume the labelling of intelligent design theory as mythology is mean spirited. It reduces the beliefs of the majority of humanity to the level of ignorant primitives.

What a horrible notion, that life may not be an accident and this realization has consequences on our lives! Science can not answer every meaningful question in life. But I guess we can pretend that it does in higher education.

This course is a political move to make a statement by some faculty in Kansas. This is acknowledged as such. Paul Mirecki, department chairman said, "The KU faculty has had enough, Creationism is mythology. Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."

So, every notion in the world which has not satisifed by the peer review method in the correct journals approved of by Dr. Mirecki is myth? The ugly head of academic elitism rears yet again. And we wonder why support for higher education is continually eroding?

I hope that the instructors of this course allow for the academic freedom of the students taking it. I think that many students who are open to intelligent design theory will enroll and attempt to engage the faculty in debate. I hope these students are not subject to ridicule and that their grades do not suffer when they turn in papers which have the nerve to actually disagree with the beliefs of the professors.

But I may be discounted or mocked. Even though I have four degrees and am working on a fifth, I must be an ignorant lout for posting this. I may have to deal with the same ad hominem and straw men arguments that others have faced recently. I hope we can get past the anti-religion and anti-rightist backlash which has been recently shown by the academy and actually talk about issues. Intellectual diversity is a good thing.

2 comments:

derailuer said...

you say..
"But intelligent design theory is not mythology and to call it such is intellectually dishonest."
HARDLY DISHONEST WHEN THE BASIS IS SET IN OBVIOUS CONTRADICTION AND 15 CENTURIES OF RE-WRITTEN DOCUMENTS.ALSO THE INCORPERATION OF OTHER CULTURES TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS ABSOLUTE TRUTH..
THERE WAS EVEN CONTRADICTION AMONGST THE TRIBES THAT WROTE[ brainwahsed] THIER " FLOCK" INTO BELIEVEING ALL THAT ROMATIC TWADDLE.
HISTORY HAS PROVEN THAT OUT. AND YOU SAY ITS " MEAN SPIRITED"??
GEE. CMON .
YOU CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.
GOOD PRESENTATION BY THE WAY ON YOUR ARTICLE , AND ITS VERY WELL WRITTEN.
THANKS FOR SHARING.

Michael said...

SprocketsandSpokes,

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your viewpoint.

However, please do no post here in the future using all caps. This is the ame as screaming online and if you do it again I will delete your post.

"THERE WAS EVEN CONTRADICTION AMONGST THE TRIBES THAT WROTE[ brainwahsed] THIER " FLOCK" INTO BELIEVEING ALL THAT ROMATIC TWADDLE."

What tribes do you speak? Intelligent design can incorporate just about any religious belief and is not tied to any religion at all. I am an agnostic and I can see the merits of debating the issue. I think you are mistakenly ascribing a Christian/Jewish viewpoint (probably due to the current culture wars and the clear academic backlash against anything which is perceived as being fundamentalism) to a theory which is multiculural, is not tied to any religion, and requires no religious belief at all to advocate for.

Intelligent design is philosophy and it is a logical one at that.