I’ve always valued science more than any other field of study, because it progresses deliberately and methodically and seeks to explain the world and the universe from its most basic to the infinitely complex.

Jess Cox

While science should be free from outside political and social influences, there are those who see science as a nuisance, something that must be overcome or else manipulated to fit their own beliefs. The most egregious science-haters are, of course, the creationists, the largely conservative Christian camp that loathes the scientific theory of evolution almost as much as the idea of homosexuals getting married. And as we all saw last November, when the religious Right doesn’t like something, it won’t hesitate to ban it.

Over the years, a number of pro-creationism, anti-evolutionism laws have been enacted, most infamously a Tennessee state ban on the teaching of evolution that culminated in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. Almost without fail, the U.S. Supreme Court has shot them down as violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The most recent example occurred in 1999, when the Kansas Board of Education removed evolution from the state science curriculum, a decision a newly elected board reversed two years later.

Since creationists have been unable to promote their beliefs through strictly legislative means, they’ve had to switch tactics. In the old days, they would have just said never mind the centuries of research and the preponderance of evidence we have for evolution; the Bible says God created the world, the animals and man in six days, so that’s the way its gonna be.

But in this age of enlightenment we live in, that just won’t cut it anymore. Creationists need their own science, and supposedly they’ve found it in the theory of intelligent design. According to the theory, life on Earth is so complex that there must be some intelligent starting point for it all. They don’t go so far as to give the starting point a name, but we all know who that is, right? At the same time, their research seeks to poke holes in the theory of evolution. They argue that evolution is bunk because of a number of missing links in the evolutionary chain. Considering the process took place over billions of years, of course some evidence was lost along the way. But to creationists, a few minor flaws are enough to discount the theory of evolution in its entirety.

Apparently the intelligent design community counts among its members dozens of brilliant scientists who no doubt hold Ph.D.s from impressive universities. But any fifth-grade science student can tell you that you should never go into your research with conclusions already drawn, which is exactly what intelligent design scientists are doing. Its one thing to hypothesize an outcome, but to assume one is bad science. What if intelligent designers’ research actually supported evolution (which, if done right, it should) in the end? Would they call church leaders around the nation and say, “Oh shit, dude. Turns out Darwin was right.”

None of that really matters to the creationists, because, after all, bad science is better than no science at all, right? Well, actually, no, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, now that they have a little bit of poorly wrought evidence on their side, the creationists are ready to take intelligent design to our schools. The first attempt occurred in Georgia in 2002, when the Cobb County Board of Education decided to plaster science textbooks with stickers reminding students that evolution was only one theory explaining the origin of species. Fortunately, just last week a federal judge in Atlanta ruled that the stickers were unconstitutional, because the board was motivated by a desire to promote a certain set of religious beliefs.

Only three days after that decision, however, the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania sent school administrators to science classrooms to inform students that intelligent design exists as an alternative to the theory of evolution after right-thinking science teachers refused to do so. Eight families in Dover have filed a lawsuit against the school district, which is being defended by Ann Arbor’s own Thomas More Law Center.

I thought that as a nation of enlightened, rational individuals we were above this kind of pathetic ploy. It’s bad enough that conservative Christians are trying to dictate the personal lives of free-thinking adults, but when they try to mislead and pollute the minds of impressionable youths with bad science, they’ve dropped to a new low. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Hoard can be reached at j.ho@umich.edu.

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