Prognostication: the future should I.D. "win"
October 10, 2005 9:13 PM   Subscribe

What do you think is going to happen to the USA if "Intelligent Design" is successfully placed into the science curriculum?

I'm thinking of "in the long run," ie. say a generation or two after "Intelligent Design" becomes ensconced in a school curriculum.

Good Reading: "The ID movement is more than an attack on biology because evolutionary theory unifies the life and earth sciences with physics and chemistry. If ID is accepted as a credible science, then the most basic definition of a scientific theory and the fundamental principles of the scientific method are not being taught. Johnson is right: ID can be the wedge that splits science wide apart."
posted by five fresh fish to Society & Culture (48 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Frankly, I figure that "Intelligent Design" is a death knell for the USA. If it is successfully forced into the science curriculum, I believe there's a very good chance the USA will lose its slim edge in the fields of science and technology, and all the innovations that come of that. What with a lot of the manufacturing and design stuff being lost to Japan, India, and China, intelligence and creativity is about the only thing left to the USA.

But I tend to be a little alarmist, so I'm kinda curious what other intelligent people thing about this. I'd be especially happy to hear how the religionists figure that "Intelligent Design" might actually benefit the USA in terms of economic and intellectual success.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on October 10, 2005

I don't think the ID movement is as big as the press makes it seem.
posted by 517 at 9:21 PM on October 10, 2005

I don't think it will matter either way. The smart kids (the ones who will end up at the cutting edge of science anyway) will just look at intelligent design, realize it's crap, and move on.
posted by oaf at 9:27 PM on October 10, 2005

as if the average american pays a great deal of attention to what they were taught in school anyway ... we already are a country of willfully ignorant sleepers ... one more dream isn't going to matter

sorry if that sounds cynical ... but it's going to be one of those things that people put up to wave around a little and promptly forget about when the next subject to be outraged about comes along

in the long run, we're going to get rudely shocked to the point where debates about intelligent design in schools will seem quaint ... long run? ... hell, it could be this year

in short, there's other fish to fry and i think they're us
posted by pyramid termite at 9:30 PM on October 10, 2005

The answers are inside this book: The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
posted by caddis at 9:35 PM on October 10, 2005

I don't believe that ID, by itself, will amount to much. However, I believe that the people who are behind ID are profoundly antiscience and antiprogress, and their victories with ID (assuming they get those victories) will invigorate them.

Over the next decade or so I fully expect the US to completely lose whatever technological/scientific edge it has and slide into a sort of neo-luddism where religious figures get to formally decide what science is allowable and what isn't.

I say this in part because the scientists I know are almost entirely uninterested in fighting to defend science and progress. They seem to expect that everyone is rational, and that therefore anti-science movements will extinguish themselves.

Mind you, a certain element of my thinking derives from the slide of Islam from light of the world to almost entirely backward and mindlessly bureaucratic/theocratic (when I say "Islam" here I mostly mean the Ottoman Empire). And, as we all know, past performance is no guarantee of future success or lack thereof.
posted by aramaic at 9:39 PM on October 10, 2005

Crazy as it seems, I actually think all of the hullabaloo over ID is good for American science education. I don't really think its going to convince anyone who wasn't already leaning toward creationism, and for the rest of us, it provides a wonderful lesson on the scientific method. It almost seems like a thought experiment in a science textbook, except that its real: Imagine that you live in a town whose citizens have never heard of evolution. How would you convince them that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor?
posted by gsteff at 9:47 PM on October 10, 2005

Well, there'll always be plenty of reasonable and smart kids (and parents) who'll just refuse to learn ID. There will also, hopefully, be colleges that are strict about excluding ID from their curriculums. I hope that colleges will not recognize high school science credits if the course includes ID material. Additionally, the scientific community at large will remain firmly opposed to the notion of ID and the fact that it's part of a science class. I can't imagine that hard-core IDers will really grow in ranks enough to displace the real scientists who are doing all of the hard work.

But, ultimately, I don't think it'll have any effect beyond polarizing the population further. (Aside from the obvious effect of America being even further embarrassed.) The bright kids who can see through the illogic of ID will still be bright kids and the fundies will still be fundies.
But my fear is that ID will, essentially, fuel the fire of bad logic and lazy thinking in public schools. And, in my experience, the public school system is already fighting a loosing battle against those very things. I worry that the potentially bright, but actually quite lazy students will embrace ID as an easy way not to worry about science class and then start applying it to the rest of their learning in a "Why bother? It's all God's doing!" way. (I went to school with quite a few kids who'd resort to just about anything to avoid working and thinking.)
posted by Jon-o at 9:48 PM on October 10, 2005

By itself, it won't destroy science education.

The fight is important because victory for the pro ID side will give the religious idiots pushing it a validation of the strategy they used.

They will try again with something else, bring on the geocentric universe!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:52 PM on October 10, 2005

Side note:
The disaster won't strike when they ruin science education. It'll strike when the shut down the airline and international shipping industries once they re-convince the population that the Earth is, indeed, flat.

posted by Jon-o at 9:55 PM on October 10, 2005

I don't believe it will have much impact on scientific research. How many school children who "believe" in ID are going to go on to study biology at University? I would say, not many. (But then, in my undergrad years, I did know of several creationist students who were studying ecology / biology.) Of those, how many are going to go on to postgraduate degrees and research? Some might try, but any papers they try to publish are going to be rejected as not following the scientific method. Indeed, one could argue that ID is a research dead end... Don't know the answer to something? Well, don't bother researching it, just blame God! Try getting that little hypothesis published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Science has a lot of inertia behind it. There are checks and balances. And people working in universities have the weight and history of academic process behind them. Believers in ID will filter off into other fields and pursuits, and will gain no ground within actual scientific circles.

But what about the effect on the wider culture? Well, to play the devil's (God's?) advocate, how much does it actually matter if an accountant or a TV repair man believes the universe is 6,000 years old? Sure, it matters if you're a geologist, but on the other hand a geologist could go around believing televisions actually contain tiny little people and it wouldn't affect his research output.

I guess it could start to matter if authorities start trusting ID advocates over scientists. I can't really imagine how that would work, though.
posted by Jimbob at 9:57 PM on October 10, 2005

I think part of this depends on how widespread it becomes - right now aren't the efforts at Intelligent Design. Aren't all the efforts that are close to succeeding (is it actually being taught anywhere yet?) only individual school districts?

If it becomes widespread, I think we'll see mainstream (i.e. not Christian fundamentalist) colleges accepting it as a high school course credit after a bit of controversy, basically for affirmative action reasons. Whether that turns out good or bad depends on how hard the colleges try to unteach ID.

I remember when the fucking Scopes monkey trial was one of those things you read about as one of the great mistakes of history, like the Separate But Equal court decision or Japanese internment.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:58 PM on October 10, 2005

Biology is usually a freshman class in high school. Kids have two or three more years of good science after it to. A day or two of ID is not going to screw them up for life.
posted by smackfu at 10:07 PM on October 10, 2005

A fantastic book to read on this subject is Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things. He takes a very logical and fact-centered approach to this discussion.

The gist of the book—and as a scientist, I tend to agree—is that creationism, in its attempts to justify itself as a science (it is not) and as offering an "alternative" to evolution (which it doesn't), will eventually bring around a complete distrust of science and a complete blurring of the principles of scientific methodology.

A key point: creationism considers itself inerrant, not prone to questioning or change. Evolution (and thus, science) is the exact opposite, always considering itself incorrect and subject to change based off the continual disproving of its theories. It is open, not closed. Ever-changing, not static. Forever immune to social pressures, not at the whim of them.

five fresh fish, sadly I think you're closer to reality than alarmism. I believe creationism—and the unfathomable support of it by the government of the most prolific scientific nation in the world—will result in a real dark age for science, evolution, and the acquisition of knowledge for human progress.
posted by symphonik at 10:11 PM on October 10, 2005

Ensconced in what school curriculum?

If you say ID must become mandatory teaching on a national level to the exclusion of evolution, then I think you're begging the question. By that point the churches will be in power and ID would be the symptom of a larger disease. Maybe that disease will exist, but I doubt that symptom will ever show.

Optional teaching of ID and a much weakened teaching of evolution at a national level (still somewhat beyond the realm of believability, but not too far): I don't think it will matter much. Some places will teach it, but places that put value on education will not. Evolution will still be taught as accepted scientific fact.

Evolution was pushed into the state level curriculums in the first place as a direct response to the launch of Sputnik. America perceived itself to be in a crisis of science. Now perhaps America perceives itself to be in a crisis of faith and resolve. If America falls behind scientifically again, its policies might shift again... I think some of the people answering above are greatly overreacting. I'd hope so, at least.
posted by fleacircus at 10:18 PM on October 10, 2005

It's fine with me. The scientific method, in a sense, is designed to be attacked. "Here's the prevailing theory on {whatever science subject}, if it's wrong, pick it apart." What we hold true as science facts are really just theories, the best theory today could be outdated tomorrow.

I don't see why evolution and ID can't be complimentary theories. Seems to me it's not all black and white, that elements of both might very well be Truth. From a species standpoint, evolution makes the most sense to me. And as for the origins of life itself, ID has some interesting ideas that, IMHO, shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. (And those who aren't that far removed from the rabid proclamations of, say, Flat-Earthers).

After all, no one can claim to know how the true origins we're back to theories. And please don't equate ID with the fundies who think the world is 4,000 years old or some such nonsese. There's a lot of intricate--and yes, scientific--biology aspects that ID addresses.

If evolution is indeed true, then this is a chance for more research/proof/evidence to strengthen the theory. And if it can't be strengthened, well maybe, just maybe, there are some gaps to be filled.
posted by zardoz at 10:25 PM on October 10, 2005

If kids are "forced" to learn ID/creationism in order to get an A grade (or a passing grade or whatever) in their highschool biology classes... while it's not going to affect all of the brightest of the children, there will be a lot of the borderline who will end up actually believing in it and this is going to affect their rational capabilities.

It depends, if ID/creationism continues to be taught, then there's likely going to be a shift in the "movers and shakers" who think that way. The USA still pumps enough money into science/health-science that the short term isn't going to be affected. The problem is when the schoolkids who were raised in this nonsense becomes the demographic who allocates tax dollars towards research/ votes for various laws affecting research/medical science, &c.

Teaching ID in the context of a biology class is *not* a good first step, and pessimistically, is a damn slippery slope.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:28 PM on October 10, 2005

Teaching anything other than stone hard facts in science class is a step backward for progress. I think we live under the false assumption that the world has always been moving forward but that's not entirely true. Civilization has moved from periods of great progress to periods of regression since the beginning of recorded time. The net effect is progress but the graph is quite jagged. I sense we are beginning a period of descent.
posted by any major dude at 10:52 PM on October 10, 2005

Teaching anything other than stone hard facts in science class...

Hate to split hairs, but in a technical sense, there are no stone hard facts in science class. Just prevailing theories.
posted by zardoz at 11:22 PM on October 10, 2005

The US has already lost a lot of ground in fertility and regenerative medicine to South Korea and Italy due to a small religious minority's objections to stem cell research. Those are fields of medicine that can raise everyone's standard of living, let alone create high-paying, skilled jobs and wealth. Those are concrete outcomes from allowing (fundmentalist) Christians to make decisions about federally-funded science research.

However, fff, your contention that the US would lose its "edge" in science and technology is contentious at best. In secondary education, the US already ranks low among industrialized countries. The only thing keeping US universities rich in graduate students and cheap post-doctorate students is the maintenance of poor or non-existent labor laws for these employees, keeping research costs artificially low. Low research costs partially give the US its edge in science research.

Once the US dollar falls even further and shoddy Bush-mandated education standards move the best investigators to Asia and Europe, there is no incentive for grad students and post-docs to come to the US to study, further hurting basic and specialized research.

All of this religious claptrap will collectively mean less jobs, fewer high-paying, high-value jobs, smaller GDP, more politically-mandated ignorance, lower standard of living, all towards the regression of the US to the state of a third-world country.

Intelligent Design is a symptom of a larger mental and cultural disease afflicting the country. The cause of America's eventual "brain drain" of its best and brightest to other countries — and its collapse as a colonial empire — is an inevitable part of that larger disease.
posted by Rothko at 11:27 PM on October 10, 2005

Well, it would really depress me, that's for sure.

It make a lot of smart people very cynical about what they were taught in school, which would probably be a good thing. Most people aren't going to go on to be biologists.

I don't think it will have much of an effect on the real world.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 PM on October 10, 2005

I think we already live in this world. Polls show that support for evolution isn't very widespread in the USA, and never has been. What's the difference between a world where 13% of Americans accept evolution and a world where that number is somewhat less than 13%? Not much, probably.
posted by tew at 12:20 AM on October 11, 2005

It would be the difference between a 49% Kerry - 51% Bush election. Or rather, it would be the consequences thereof.
posted by Rothko at 12:26 AM on October 11, 2005

I've met several people who, when I told them I believed in evolution and did not share their belief in God, said, "Well, what keeps you from just committing suicide?"

Most people are not ready to scrutinize their beliefs. Tamper with them at your peril.

That said, when I.D. surfaces, I see it as a nod to the lower half, like when our beloved President says "Nuculer" instead of "Nuclear". A quick means of displaying your allegiance, toward a political end. In the end, insignificant.
posted by atchafalaya at 3:20 AM on October 11, 2005

tew - that's quite different from what I've read in the past. I always thought that support for the creationist view was around 40-50%. See here for example.

In which case, in answer to fff - it probably won't make much difference. The half who believe in evolution will selectively ignore the ID theories, just as the other half have been selectively ignoring evolutionary theory for years.
posted by blag at 3:22 AM on October 11, 2005

I think it will increase the dichotomy of people who are wrong that think they are right. We will be further entrenched in a society where for every truth there is another "truth" that counters the first. Productivity will suffer.
posted by furtive at 3:57 AM on October 11, 2005

I went to Catholic school, and I still grew up an atheist. I know I'm not the only one.

Education in the United States is fantastically decentralized. Even if that nonsense in PA runs all the way up to the Supreme Court (can it go federal or would it stay in the state?) that's still a ways from an edict that all schools must teach creationism. If that really occurs, we are fucked, because of the breakdown of local controls on education (and anything else).

I think (as if this wasn't already chatfilter) an interesting question is what happens to kids who are taught ID as a "valid theory". I think the US (or, better, "humanity") has a history of people disproving what they were taught in school. Hopefully that will continue.

I think the point many make above is, however, very much worth considering. Some students will know creationism is laughable and ignore it (or do what they need to pass), some students won't believe in evolution even if that's the only idea taught. Would a widely-mandated instruction of ID significantly alter the size of the "swing vote" inbetween?

TheOnlyCoolTim: There were places [ahem] where Scopes wasn't taught as a "mistake" (Inherit the Wind notwithstanding) and there are still Japanese Internment apologists. My only point is that education across the US has never been monolithic.
posted by sohcahtoa at 4:07 AM on October 11, 2005

Another story. I had (in public high school) a blatantly creationist Astronomy teacher (common joke: "Well shouldn't we just call it Astrology then?:). He taught the material as it appeared in the textbook, but made occasional jabs and spent one entire class period on the "flaws" in what he was teaching.

He must've been a "young earth" creationist. The one example that sticks with me was him showing us a picture of the lunar lander and telling us that it had those long legs because scientists expected the moon to be covered in a couple feet of "moon dust", consistent with the age of the moon. He then said that since that dust wasn't there, the moon (and therefor the universe) was much younger than scientists thought, say, maybe, about 6,000 years.

Hearing that shit spew from a "science" teacher's mouth was, to me, way more instructive than anything else I learned in that class. It reinforced that teachers can be wrong, that people, including "scientists", fit their experiences and knowledge around their beliefs, and that in spite of all that one can, given a handful of facts, often dig out some truth.
posted by sohcahtoa at 4:16 AM on October 11, 2005

As others have noted, there is no "the science curriculum" for creationism to be forced into. There are, at minimum, fifty, and more realistically tens of thousands of science curricula.

Presumably you don't mean "What would happen if it were illegal to teach evolution in public schools and people who tried were whipped through the streets and sent to re-Christianization camps until they loved Jesus and swore eternal fealty to the Bush dynasty?" because that's not on the table anywhere.

What would happen if, per current wet dreams of creationists, high school bio teachers were formally required to make some announcement about how "intelligent design" is another theory, and there's this book over here? Positively fuck-all.

Imagine the sorts of suburban soccer-moms who are already running their kids ragged from one activity to the next, mortgaging themselves to the hilt to get into a marginally better school district, and otherwise doing everything they can to get their precious offspring into Good University. You really think that a district dominated by these people, with a PTA run by these people, is going to sit still and watch their children's educations be made an object of national ridicule so that they don't get into Stanford?

It's not like the six to twelve members of a state board of education can actually run around making sure that it happens, or that local or state police would investigate possible violations of state curricular requirements, so at least some districts will probably simply ignore any creationist requirement, or effectively ignore it through some bureaucratic procedure. Others will "teach" it by delivering the required announcement in a way that makes it clear that it's the obvious nonsense that it is, or make the required perfunctory announcement and get back to teaching biology, or make the required perfunctory announcement and launch into a discussion of what science is and isn't. The only places where you'd be likely to see creationist nonsense taught with any enthusiasm would be the sorts of poor, rural districts where it's probably already taught informally, and which, frankly, don't produce many science phds anyway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:04 AM on October 11, 2005

Anybody read the Handmaid's Tale?

That's what.
posted by Kololo at 5:11 AM on October 11, 2005

The rapid offensive unit made the point I was trying to get across. Thanks.
posted by sohcahtoa at 5:17 AM on October 11, 2005

What with a lot of the manufacturing and design stuff being lost to Japan, India, and China, intelligence and creativity is about the only thing left to the USA.

This is a silly or maybe pernicious meme. Nothing gets made in the US (or more accurately the North American integrated market). Except for the millions of cars. And the chips. And the photolithography equipment and other chip-fab parts. And the airliners. And the combat aircraft. And the construction equipment. And the farm equipment. And the pharmaceuticals. And the pharm-manufacturing equipment. And the mining equipment. And the machine tools. A little here and a little there, and it somehow adds up to something like 5 trillion dollars/year. But nothing gets made in the US.

This is as silly as it would be to assert that manufacturing is dead in Europe, when Europe is, likewise, an absolute hurricane of manufacturing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:30 AM on October 11, 2005

I think why these dying throwbacks are trying to climb out of the grave is they've been given help from Karl Rove and Co., who see it as votes.

The noose has been slowly tightening around this nonsense for 100 years. It's only a matter of time before it dies off.

Also think of the Internet - technology has given everyone access to reason, and learning. What worked for the Catholic Church, keeping information from the people, is being retooled, to simply give people lies all the time, Fox News, ID, etc.

Again, I think ID is a small lunatic voice given amplification by this corrupt White House for political gains.

This one goes out to everyone who voted for Nadar in 2000. Now you know.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:19 AM on October 11, 2005

It wasn't called Intelligent Design yet when I took high school biology in 1992-93, but our public school textbooks did include a couple paragraphs acknowleding that not every belief system trucked with evolution and that there were many people who believe the world was created by God without the help of science.

My high school biology teacher used the paragraphs as the basis for a 45-minute-long lecture on the difference between science and pseudoscience.

"You can believe whatever you want when you leave this classroom," he said. "But while you're in here, we're studying science."

He used the mandatory insertion of creationism as a way to rail against it, and I wouldn't be surprised if he convinced some impressionable young people who hadn't really examined their beliefs.

I know there are creationist science teachers out there, and I would bet that whatever the official curriculum in their current school districts they are already inserting their beliefs into what they teach. The vast majority of biology teachers, however, must understand evolution, it is my belief. And I have to hope that even if they're required to mention ID they would be able to use their classroom time to talk about what science really is.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2005

My take:

1. Scientists and others who write about creationism or ID as though it's a new threat are off the mark; creationism is the default belief of, it seems, most Americans. It's not ID that's making an incursion into evolutionary territory; it's quite the opposite. Many, many people already believed in intelligent design (or some equivalent) before this most recent debate, and no doubt many parents taught their children about intelligent design (or its equivalent) no matter what they learned in school. In other words, intelligent design is nothing new. It's just an attempt to couple two, at this point, widely held beliefs: (1) a belief in a God and (2) a belief in some sort of evolutionary process.

2. In the larger picture, intelligent design is already a soft version of creationism, since it doesn't rely on the Biblical account. In 1925, the fight was evolution vs. creationism; in 2005, it's evolution vs. ID. That shows quite a bit of progress. It seems to me wildly optimistic to think that religious belief can possibly be excised from schoolteaching any faster than this. The teaching of real, proper evolutionary theory is basically a denial of the existence of God the way most people imagine God to be -- i.e., as a God who answers your prayers and thinks about you individually. No wonder there's a struggle about it.

3. Also in the larger picture, church attendance in America has been declining since the 70s. As religion has been under attack from all sorts of forces--demographic, cultural, and scientific--it has begun to retrench into a more fundamentalist pose. This is like building a wall around your besieged city. Really the ID fight, from this perspective, is a kind of rear-guard action. It is just a skirmish in a long war that science has been slowly winning for many centuries.

I guess you could say I'm an optimist.

I think it's easy to underestimate the importance of the debate about ID, which is not about anything as nitpicky as the scientific method. It's about the existence of a personal God, which evolution firmly denies. It's just unrealistic to expect that that belief in a personal God--a belief which the vast majority of people in the world hold very strongly--can be overturned so easily and without a fight. This is a real issue, which is why so many real scientists, like Steven Jay Gould, have written about the reconciliation of evolution and religion. They aren't endorsing ID, but they are acknowleding that there is a real conundrum for many people about the confluence of these two big ideas. The fight about intelligent design isn't best understood as a victory of the irrational over the rational--it's best understood as a bunch of school board officials trying to reconcile two very strong beliefs that they and their constituents hold--religious belief and, yes, belief in the empirical truth of what science shows us.

There's a notion that this is a slippery slope--that we will fall easily from evolution to intelligent design to creationism. But "we" have never believed, in the aggregrate, in evolution, and in the slope goes the other way. Over the last century we have been slowly sliding from out-and-out creationism to intelligent design, and eventually we may slide all the way to evolution. I take the long view: only a hundred years ago, in 1905, science was still obsessed with the divine creation of different, and variously deserving, races of human beings. Of course there's a fight in the schools about teaching evolution.

So, the short answer: nothing will "happen" to the United States except what's already happening. Fifty or a hundred years from now these laws will be reversed, church attendance will have continued its decline, and people of all sorts will continue to try and find a place for religious belief in an increasingly rational and secular society.
posted by josh at 7:02 AM on October 11, 2005

I think the incorporation of ID into the American grammar school curriculum might actually improve science education there. No joke. Sort of like a homeopathic remedy.

"Death knell"? What a turd.
posted by shoos at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2005

zardoz wrote:

Hate to split hairs, but in a technical sense, there are no stone hard facts in science class. Just prevailing theories

no apology necessary zardoz, when it comes down to it everything is a theory but science is supposed to be the leading edge of theory, not the trailing edge.
posted by any major dude at 7:21 AM on October 11, 2005

The Butler Act was passed right about where this chart begins.
posted by shoos at 7:49 AM on October 11, 2005

I think the only people paying attention to the ID issue are the loons pushing for it and those who are terrified of them. Those who are terrified by them don't realize the ID loons are a very small minority or the population. The rest of us are saying "whatever".

The media pumps up the idea that the moral majority types have a much larger influence than they actually do by constantly interviewing them. They interview them because they come off as borderline insane and it makes for "good" TV.

I think intellectual laziness and the fact we don't teach math/reading/writing well are much bigger issues than ID could ever be.
posted by Carbolic at 8:05 AM on October 11, 2005

I would side with those who feel that the schools have bigger fish to fry and that the ID issue is small. That the religious fanatics are more caught up in this than the fact that kids aren't learning effectively pretty much means that maybe ID will be taught in schools, but the students won't retain it.

I'd be interested in seeing statistics on graduates of private religious education who still buy any of the mumbo-jumbo that passes for curriculum there. Kids aren't as dumb as we think, and ID-day in class is more likely to be an interesting sideline in which the jesus-freak kids are distinguished from those who don't buy it or don't care.

Also, the spread of ID is mitigated by local control (as much as local control is such a hindrance to instituting real education reform), and while you'll have school districts that will place ID in their curriculum, they will be publicized and shunned the way we kinda view Kansas as brain-dead terrority. Give it some time for parents to realize that their kids will have less opportunity as a result, and ID will join book-burning and dance-banning on the shitpile.
posted by troybob at 8:37 AM on October 11, 2005

Thank-you all for the calm and reasonable discussion! This has been a very mature thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 AM on October 11, 2005

I'd be interested in seeing statistics on graduates of private religious education who still buy any of the mumbo-jumbo that passes for curriculum there.

You'd have to be more specific than "private religious education." You won't get much "mumbo-jumbo" in a biology class in a Catholic school.

While lots of denominations might say that God lurks behind the evolutionary curtain somehow, the evolution-is-a-lie people are drawn very heavily from the evangelical and charismatic splinter denominations and the southern Baptists.

Sorry if I was cranky. Estoy cansado.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2005

yes i was wrong...i grew up around southern baptists and was thinking of their schools in particular...though i have friends who grew up in catholic schools who would view the religious aspect of the education as mumbo-jumbo...oh yeah, i was referring to the entire curriculum, not just biology class...hey, wait...i wasn't wrong after all!

just kidding...i'm wrong mostly...and do yourself a favor and get off the crank! drugs are bad! (except weed)
posted by troybob at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2005

I think the only people paying attention to the ID issue are the loons pushing for it and those who are terrified of them. Those who are terrified by them don't realize the ID loons are a very small minority or the population.

This depends entirely on what part of the country you make your home. I live maybe ten miles or so from the action in Dover, and I suspect that the majority up there support intelligent design. I guess what I'm saying is that if the ID controversy were happening a little closer to where you live, you might not be so quick to dismiss the power of some of those "loons in the small minority" that are pushing for it.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2005

I see this merely as a swing of the pendulum. If it comes to pass it will swing back.

It is no different the mandated "moment of silence" that was imposed in the '80s.

On a practical level, it will not happen uniformly until the US has a complete, standard curriculum (which we don't and although NCLB is pushing towards that, I don't see it happening). And in order for that to happen, each school will require new text books and training and the government can't mandate that unless they fund it. Seeing how funding isn't really happening to the right level to support more important things like, say, special education, I don't see it magically appearing for something that sweeping.

What I've seen in the school in which I worked was that when the state mandated a change in history curriculum (which is apprently one of the most volatile), they treat it like a change in the weather because it usually changes before they need to actually respond to it.

In the sciences, it's somewhat easier because new study and research are changing the content of science texts, so I could see it getting slipped in. On the other hand, you'll also get teachers like my high school physics teacher who gave us two texts at the beginning of the year. The first, authored by "Dull and others" (I swear, I'm not making this up) was his preferred text since it covered the content effectively and thoroughly. The second was a modern book and he told us outright that he was required to give us this book and we were welcome to look at some of the example problems since they explain some things differently than Dull, but we were given this book because it has pictures of women and minorities and that if a member of the school board or administration came by, we had to take them out.
posted by plinth at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2005

Teach religion in religion class, and science in science class.

ID is not a scientific theory. Scientific theory must be falsifiable and testable. ID is neither. It has no place in a science classroom.

ID does not address any shortcomings in current biology in any meaningful way. "God did it that way," is less scientifically valid an answer than, "we don't know yet, but we have a theory."

Realistically ID is creationism sugar-coated with enough PC wording to obfuscate it's origins. Testing this is easy - ask an "ID is not creationism" proponent if the designer is an alien, or a robot probe sent from another star, or the flying spaghetti monster. Those who advance ID have a definite "comfort zone" as regards what "I" did the "D"ing.
posted by Crosius at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2005

Thirding the Margaret Atwood novel.
posted by sian at 2:53 PM on October 11, 2005

"And please don't equate ID with the fundies who think the world is 4,000 years old or some such nonsese. There's a lot of intricate--and yes, scientific--biology aspects that ID addresses."

Thank you. Not everyone who believes in God is a crank, nut, fundie, maniac, etc. Einstein belived in God, yes? Calm down, think a little, and realize that informing people that there are other theories (right or wrong, and who can say?) is a good thing. You want education, science, and this country to go down the tubes, and fast, then make some laws that dictate what we can and cannot teach. Censorship does not help people learn more, be smarter, think for themselves, or advance a cause, whether it be scientific, religious, or otherwise. When someone reacts to "Intelligent Design," "creationism." etc. with such hate-spewing, bigoted rancor as to absolutely declaim anyone who is slightly religious as insane and bent on destroying the United States, and proclaiming good ol' evolution and Science as The Only Truth, they don't seem to realize how that sounds. They make a mockery of the research that has been put into the evolutionary theory, they act more ignorantly than their caricatured opponents, and generally just don't help further intelligent debate. Don't debase so-called creationists by pointing out a lack of willingness to study and understand the other side if you're going to dismiss their theories out of hand - for whatever reason. Pot calling the kettle black?

I believe many, many people who support ID are not arguing that it be taught as the truth, much less the absolute truth. They would simply like it to be known that evolution is not a firm law - there are competing theories. How many of us that were not specifically taught "ID" (simply a new name for an old set of beliefs) learned about it anyway? Was this recent debate your first introduction to the idea of a supreme being who created the universe? Not likely. Yet did you turn out any worse for it? Let's look at the wave-particle theory of light...two competing theories. If one had never been allowed to be taught, would we know (what we think is) the truth today? (No, it's not directly comparable. It's an analogy.) (And no, I'm not suggesting that creation and evolution are both partially correct. Or am I? See, critical thinking is a good thing!)

This may seem like a big deal - a history-making decision. And it may be. But please, please, inform yourself, do some thinking - don't just spout off a knee-jerk reaction to what you think is the issue based on what you've seen on CNN, or Fox, or anywhere. If you are going to argue, for or against, design an argument intelligently. Pun intended, but I'm serious.
posted by attercoppe at 8:50 PM on October 11, 2005

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