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7.1.05

Intelligent Design

I'll admit, I have little problem with the Pledge of allegiance. I guess I just don't think about it that much.

Way back in June of 2002, the Ninth Circuit (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) ruled that the Pledge was unconstitutional because it said, "I pledge allegiance to the Flag...One nation, under god." Then, of course, the 9th Circuit, amid heavy pressure, heard the case en banc. It ultimately ended up before the Supreme Court, which dodged the issue based on standing. So technically, the issue is still out there, just waiting. Apparently.

In 1943, the Supreme Court decided that the Pledge was constitutional, as people could refuse to say it, even though the Plaintiff (a Jehovah's Witness I think, but don't quote me on that) had religious objections to the Pledge. However, back in 1943, the challenged phrase didn't even exist. The 'under God' was not added until 1954, in an act that specifically stated that 'this is not an act establishing a religion.' So technically, the 1943 decision doesn't deal with what is at issue now.

However, the Supreme Court (while ducking the issue, a few justices discussed it) compared it to the phrase "In God We Trust" on our money. I would agree that few believe that we are endorsing religion every time we make a purchase. (Though there is a movement to
get rid of the phrase.) The Supreme Court opens with, "God save this honorable Court" (the rest of this sentence is "from these psycho, right wing judges") Even our NATIONAL ANTHEM, the Star-Spangled Banner, concludes, "Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!/Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,/And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"/And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!" (Though we usually one sing one verse, actually has several verses). History books discuss the American concept of Manifest Destiny. And all these things, very few people give any thought to at all. So in that same spirit, I am probably ok with all of these things.

Now, after losing the first time based on standing, the father in this case has
refiled the lawsuit, along with a eight other parents (who are the custodial parents, taking care of the standing issue). (Cynical me notes that he is his own attorney, and I think he just wants to argue before the Supreme Court. Then again, who can blame him.)

This comes on the tail of the decision by a Pennsylvania school board's decision to start teaching "
Intelligent Design." (ID has its own website here.) First, how exactly can a school board vote on what constitutes "science." Aren't there standards on how much time teachers much spend on specific subjects? (Even home schooled kids have to meet those). If the state doesn't find ID to be science, do the students not have enough hours to receive science credit for the year? That's just a practical question.

I find fault with the entire theory. Much like Descartes "proved" the existence of God ("God exists because I can conceive of a God existing, which means that he must have put the concept of God in my mind"), ID argues that God must exist. ("Life is so complex that only an intelligent designer must have created it." They conclude the odds of DNA assembling by change are 1040 (I would type the rest of the 0s here, but there are 40,000 of them. 40,000!)) I need more than: because "it's imaginable" or "it's complicated."

Now, I see teaching evolution: Here's the theory, here's the proof that supports this theory. But for ID...Here's the theory. It's cause it's complicated. No proof other than complexity? Cavemen would say all sorts of things were complex because of their lack of understanding; that didn't mean that their explanations were right.

Those favoring ID discuss the holes in the theory of evolution (because there *are* no holes in the "God created us" theory). Now in theory, this doesn't seem like it establishes a religion - just some random deity, whether he is the Christian's god or the Jew's god or Muslim's Allah. In fact, since it doesn't signify that there is only one god, even those with multiple gods could technically be included (i.e. Hindu, Paganism, or Wicca). Those with no god (like Buddhists and Taoists) are unlucky. But techically, it's just any divine being who created the universe. (However the school board who passed it made comments like" Jesus died on the cross and someone has to take a stand for Him, and that "If the Bible is right, God created us. If God did it, it's history and it's also science.") But even if you could argue with a straight face that this doesn't establish a particular religion, this clearly it is a complete melding of church and state. I thought that was a no no??

And ID isn't even real. It's creationism under a different name (because in 1987, the Supreme Court said that it was illegal to make creationism a part of the science curriculum. Of course, my beloved Justice Brennan (the author of that particular opinion) is no longer on the bench, while Scalia, who in dissent argued that creationism was "valuable scientific data" that an "embarrassed scientific establishment" (how exactly sure how) "censored from the classrooms," is still on the bench. Nevertheless, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit. I sent them $50 yesterday.

Anyway, this goes well beyond the Cobb County, Georgia school that plastered stickers inside the front cover of science textbooks stating: "Evolution is a theory, not a fact." Technically, that is correct. Evolution *is* a theory. A damn good theory, a likely theory, but technically a theory, nonetheless. Science class teaches us the LAW of gravity, and the THEORY of evolution. (Of course, I still maintain that gravity is a theory, and an untrue one at that.) But ok, I think you all are ridiculous, but I'll give that one to you. But intelligent design?? Does renaming it change what it is?

And now the point here (took me long enough, I know): why is it that I'm ok with the Pledge (and money and whatnot) and not ok with intelligent design? Isn't that a bit hypocritical of me? Aren't they essentially the same thing?



3 Comments:

  • At 8:24 PM, Blogger Curtis said…

    I don't have a problem with "under god" being in the Pledge, but I do have a problem with how it got there. Congress voted to add it to the pledge in the 50's, which, I think is a little scary.

    Christians seem to be divided on this issue. There is a fair amount of us who believe that the government should not, in any substantive way, involve itself in religion. Behavior that might "help" us one day can deeply hurt us the next day. Case study: Europe. All it takes is to open a European history book to see how fucked up state endorsement of religion becomes. A good part of the reason French girls can't wear a crucifix to school is because of the state endorsement. It's part of the reason atheism has taken such a strong hold.

    If Christians believe this wouldn't happen here they are only fooling themselves. Leave to Ceaser what is Ceasers. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians appear to be on the other side of the fence. They see the roses that come from a Christian controlled Congress that can make legislation that favors them. It's unfortunate because history will repeat itself.

    In essence, I don't care if people have the right to say under God, to pray in public squares, and to wear a crucifix to school. However, I don't think that Congress should be making an affirmative proposals to encourage this behavior. Rather, their role, under the 1st Amendment, is to protect the ability of people to choice whether to do this.

     
  • At 9:09 PM, Blogger CC Baxter said…

    Here's my two cents. Hypocritical of you? I don't think so.

    Separation of Church and State in my mind is a separation of two things people have to believe in for them to work. Keeping the church completely separate from the state minimizes the state being controlled completely by emotion and letting some rational thought to enter how the government works. So having the word God on our money and in the modified pledge does meld a belief into the government, but if no one believes in the government, then the government won't work (just like the stock market).

    Separation of religion and science involves separating something logical and something emotional. So a science can not be described by religion just as religion can not be described by science. I will grant that there is a little overlap here, such as scientific studies that have indicated a biblical flood type event likely happened and that the Red Sea could have been parted. These studies though actually give more credence to the Bible stories and have not said "Moses was never there with Pharaoh's Army's chasing him." Creationism says what happened in the beginning of the Bible happened. So, the first two humans came from dirt. Dirt has tiny organisms in it. People evolved from organisms in the dirt and the bible would be too long to explain all the steps....or what people forget is it is a book of faith, but it is a book written by human hands, and word of mouth could only go back to the first humans.....

    I am not as bothered by the word "god" on currency as I am by religion saying science is wrong. Does the Earth orbit the Sun? (Copernicus was such a heretic)

    (I'm not sure if this comment makes sense, its been a long day at the office; a little blurry mindwise right now)

     
  • At 10:31 PM, Blogger Me said…

    Curtis, "Under God" was added during the Cold War to show that we were better than those amoral communists. (Wait, isn't that what they Religious Right still calls liberals??) But the question is, what is a "substantive way" to be involved in religion? If the proposal has been there for 50 years, will be be more difficult to change it than leave it?? And there is nothing requiring individuals to recite the pledge, though if ID is part of the curriculum then they are required to learn ID.

    Dern: I like being told I'm not hypocritical! ;-) Are you saying that the government can't be effective without some religion intermix?

    But Genesis says that God created us from dirt in His image. So it's not the same as organisms from the dirt and evolving. And in the beginning, God talked with humans, so while it can only go back to the first humans, it's like they had direct access to everything that happened. So it's not like the Bible can support evolution or science at all. As you said, when religion and science disagree, religion just says that science is wrong...and plenty of people just accept that.

     

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