Irony in Intelligent Design
by Cecil Bohanon
Over the past 50 years individual rights have been supplemented and in some case supplanted by group rights. The whole notion of group rights is based on the premise that certain groups are victims of social oppression.
Recognizing group identity is the first step in redressing this grievance. A myriad of legal structures are necessary to counter-balance and protect group members from the prevailing cultural hegemony. This thinking has permeated policy formulation in everything from education to employment law, and touches almost all of government and much private activity.
Claims of group rights have been made primarily on the lines of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. A delicious irony, however, is emerging for those who have long argued that particular group perspectives deserve special and intentional inclusion in education. It ends up that certain evangelical Christians are both willing and able to play the group identity card to ensure their perspective is included in high school biology classes. That’s not what politically correct liberals had in mind, but the logic is flawless.
Mainstream scientists assert that “intelligent design” is not a scientific theory and therefore has no place in a science classroom. But that viewpoint, along with scientific inquiry itself is simply one perspective, and one that is structured to be racist, patriarchal, Eurocentric and imperialistic.
Other views from other groups should come to bear and be given voice in the discussion of so-called scientific issues. Science or for that matter any disciplined mode of inquiry should not be granted privileged status in intellectual discourse. This post-modern perspective permeates many quarters of academia.
But if this post-modern perspective is adopted, then why shouldn’t “anti-religious” be added to the litany of the social sins of scientific inquiry? Why shouldn’t evangelicals assert their right to be heard, using the methodology that gives authentic voice to their perspective?
The answer, of course, is that evangelicals are not favored by most academics. Indeed, making fun of evangelical Christians is fair game among much of the intelligentsia.
Intelligent design is silly science. A scientific theory must yield testable hypotheses. Science can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a Deity in natural process. Science is designed to find out the how of the world, and has little to say about the why. At best, intelligent design is an interesting speculation.
Science, however, as other disciplined modes of inquiry, has an intellectual integrity and autonomy that transcend issues of race, class, gender or faith. That a female scientist or an evangelical Christian scientist may feel discriminated against by colleagues in certain settings hardly bears on the efficacy of the discipline.
Let’s let academics be academics.
Cecil E. Bohanon, Ph.D., a professor of economics at Ball State University, is an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Another essay on this topic by an economist and adjunct scholar of the foundation, Dr. Eric Schansberg, can be read under the title, “Evolution: Science, Religion, Economics,” on the Indiana Writers Group page at www.inpolicy.org.)