There has been a lot of controversy recently over the teaching of "Intelligent Design" in schools as an alternative theory to evolution. It saddens me to say that even the (opinion withheld) president of these United States has endorsed this cause.
Intelligent Design (referred to hereafter as "ID") is simply a new direction for the creationists to fight science and all of the scientific evidence for evolution. ID is a new concept from the religious right. It's only been around for a few years, and was the brainchild of a fundamental Christian foundation calling themselves the Discovery Institute. Their claim, basically, is that the origins of life are too complex to have gotten here by random chance. The 'gaps' in our scientific data is where a divine creator intervened to speed along the process. They also insist that the Earth, the universe even, is not billions of years old, but thousands. Evolution, of course, being based on testable, repeatable data and millions of individual pieces of evidence, disagrees.
We have over 1 million individual pieces of fossil evidence that prove, or at least make a virtually indisputable case, for evolution and the billion or so years that life has existed in some form on this tiny little rock we call our home. And that's just the biological evidence.
We also have thousands upon thousands of other scientific examples to show how old our planet is. Look at geology for example. If the Grand Canyon were formed in only a few thousand years, as the IDers would have us believe, then even in the few hundred years that we have lived in this country it would be several hundred feet deeper. How much deeper is it? I'll take a guess: 1 or 2 millimeters.
What about the enormous Barringer crater in Arizona? You know, the one just west of Winslow? That impact is speculated to be about 50,000 years old. Had it happened in our written history, the global effects on the weather would have been catastrophic. How do we know? We've got evidence from volcanoes to prove that dirt and ash in the atmosphere affect the weather dramatically.
What about all of the craters on the moon? Other than one on the back side that a group of monks 5 or 6 hundred years ago witnessed, we haven't seen any of those happen.
The point is, it takes time to sculpt and evolve this planet, indeed this universe of ours, into what it has become. We study these things so that we can find the truth about what happened in our 4.5 billion year history. We want to know because we can learn from it, we can extrapolate out the what-ifs and maybes so that we can protect ourselves; so that we can survive. Isn't that the our purpose?
The devil didn't put these things here to distract us from the divine truth, yet many people believe that he did. Ironically, many Christians disagree here, because many of them don't believe in the devil anymore. It's funny that even religion evolves. The staunch amongst them would never admit it though.
So what's the big deal? Why don't we just let them have their way? Well first, it's unconstitutional. You've heard of the separation of church and state, I assume? You know, the foundation of this country? That's one. Secondly, it's not science. The fact that they are trying to pass it off as science is a lie. The subversive nature of the IDers and the way they try to obfuscate their true motives is wrong. It's wrong morally, ethically, and it's even contrary to their own bible: "Thou shalt not lie".
Religion, quite simply, is the scourge of free thought and scientific exploration. Other than some very tenuous tolerance by the Catholic church, religion and science have always been opposed. Why? Because one requires proof that is testable and peer-reviewed, while the other requires faith. Taking someone else's word for it rather than being able to prove it.
Normally, science doesn't try to stop religion. In fact, it never really has. It's been happy to coexist with or exist outside of religion and discover, explore, make and test hypotheses, find cures for diseases, realize through observation and testing that the Earth is not the center of the universe, etc. Then and now, the religious leaders and churches have always held the power; the control of the minds of the masses. Unfortunately with this ID bollocks, science is being called to task. We're being forced to divert our attention from exploration of ideas and the quest for knowledge to fight the ID wars and protect the one thing we hold so dear - the truth.
Why is this so important? Well, quite simply because the Earth is a dangerous place and we have to seek knowledge out so that we can protect ourselves. We can't simply exist here and pray that god will tell us what to do. A quick look around will show you the importance of science in our world. If we turn it off and throw our hands up to the lord to protect us and keep us safe, we will die.
It makes me nauseous to watch so many people throw their minds out the window and embrace some easy, 'divine' answer. What a relief it must be for them to not have to think about their origins and embrace a fantasy. I find the truth to be so much more interesting; so much more mind boggling.
The size of our little galaxy alone is hard for me to put my arms around. I'm too limited, too finite to be able to relate to the extreme speeds, temperatures, gravitational forces, and distances. There's so much to understand, it inspires me to seek it out and to learn it. I pity those who would circumvent this wonderful search for knowledge.
Attention ID proponents: I'm sorry that your life is so meaningless and empty that you have to try and drag others into your own personal hell on earth. Open your eyes, open your minds, and you'll see the beauty and wonder that only the real truth, the scientific truth, can provide to you.