As many of you know, I am on faculty at an HBC. For those of you outside of higher education, HBC stands for “Historically Black College.” I am proud of the education offered here at Medgar Evers College. So when a colleague gave me a recent copy of the Afro Times, a local Brooklyn newspaper, I was a bit dismayed to see a large article on the opening of Ken Ham’s Ark Park. My fears, however, were allayed as the article discussed the history (aka the genesis - ha-ha) of the Park. It also interviewed atheist leaders and detailed the controversy of the Park getting tax breaks and being allowed to hire only Christians.
I got to thinking about the park and about creationism in general. How sadly deceptive and dangerous biblical literalism is (insert religion here) and how it supports ignorance and even worse, so many forms of violence.
Creationism and Intelligent Design isn’t about select advocates, educators or creation scientists having a conscience. It’s about promoting “Con Science.” It is knowingly working or teaching that the world is 6,000 years old. It is about doing back flips to make biology, chemistry, geology and astronomy fit into a theistic worldview. It is essentially lying to others in the name of subjective mythology rather than working to develop objective truth about the natural world.
There are only two ways that intelligent design advocates can sneak their pseudo-science theology into science classrooms. The first is when their community is like-minded and overtly does not choose to question ID curriculum. The second is when members of the community cannot politically or legally fight back.
Religious conscience is “Con Science” It is faith masquerading as science. Con Science is Intelligent Design and ID is false science. ID lies to anyone who accepts or is forced to listen to its claims. It is faulty science that does not report accepted scientific knowledge. It is faulty science that co-opts the scientific method. It is faulty science which is not open to objectivity and actively seeks to disallow outside verification.
Intelligent design is alchemy instead of chemistry. It is astrology instead of astronomy. It is praying for the sick instead of offering the sick medicine. Is it any wonder that Intelligent Design is not even considered fringe science? It is just bad science proposed by scientists who work within and understand but disable reason for the sake of religious faith.
The moment you show humans and dinosaurs living together in harmony you’ve essentially re-created The Flintstones. But the Creationist’s intention is not to show or redraw a campy 1960’s children’s cartoon but to personify scientific and historic reality based on literal interpretation of the bible. This is a false reality that deserves to be mocked because it isn’t true. Ideas based on the bible, which just because one may believe them, does not mean that they are equal to other and better ideas about the nature of reality when the are supported by actual evidence.
The same goes for concepts in ID such as Irreducible Complexity. This idea is Bishop William Paley’s “Watchmaker” analogy updated for a new generation. It is an 18th century argument for a creator that puts on 21th Century clothing. And when IC is used in any court battle (Think Kitzmiller v Dover for instance) as evidence for and justification to teach ID, it is struck down not as science by as theology and found to be unconstitutional.
In fact, it is so weak an argument for divine design essentially because there remains no evidence of a creator but just ongoing misinterpretations or misunderstandings (many deliberate) to call into question the very nature of scientific knowledge and nature itself.
Finally, it if was just Ken Ham and his Looney Toons views or Michael Behe and his deceptive and false science we could almost minimize their ideas to the point of laughingly ridicules. Except for a few things. First, biological evolution is a clear marker in the ongoing culture wars. In the U.S., one-third of people believe that we are divinely created and another one-third accept evolution but believe that their God started the processes and put nature into motion.
If this national schism wasn’t real, we certainly wouldn’t have Republican Mike Pence, the VP pick by Donald Trump, land on the ticket and who supports teaching ID. To paraphrase Mr. Pence, "that the only rational explanation for the universe is one that includes Intelligent Design.” You can Google him to see his views on evolution (and climate change) and you can see he does not accept the natural explanation of how we, and our complex universe, evolved.
But I am also an optimist. So as I again go down periscope and continue writing my book on Charles Darwin, I leave you with this quote by that brilliant but troubled man:
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge; it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positivity assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”