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Nothing intelligent about this

What chaps my Texan b-hind the most, what makes it contemptible from a very American point of view, is this recent statement unfortunately that plants President Bush on the same ancient playing field as the Muslim extremists who wish us all dead, both refusing to accept the fact that the mythological game of “our god can beat up your god any day” ended with an unceremonious “thud” centuries ago.”Both sides ought to be properly taught … so people can understand what the debate is about,” Bush said in reference to his personal belief that the “theory” of “intelligent design” should be taught alongside evolution in public schools. He added: “Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. …”Well, sure, but these two particular schools of thought do not belong on the same campus, much less the same classroom.Religion, which is entirely a matter of opinion and personal preference, should be taught in a place of worship, such as a church, while science, a matter of evidence and facts, should be taught in an institution of learning, such as a school. Case closed, end of debate, end of story. Yet here we are, settled nicely in the 21st century, still having to fight senseless battles across the globe with thousands dying each month due to ancient beliefs of omnipotent beings with magical powers. How sad to witness that while modern 21st century science is based firmly in the normal and the natural, religion is still rooted narrowly in the paranormal and the supernatural.Intelligent design theory is nothing more than horse-and -art creationism cloaked in a ’49 Coup Deville – both outdated modes that can indeed carry one from A to B over time, but neither of much intrinsic value in a technologically-advanced society.And to call any religious-based idea a “theory” is an insult to the word itself, mankind in general, and science in particular.Theory, in scientific terms, means an explanation of what is observed (and the probability of a particular outcome) through rigorous testing to provide a reliable, yet falsifiable, explanation of natural phenomena. Virtually all science is composed of theories, and when new data and better theories are discovered, the old ones are conceded, usually without a fight. As an example, the theory of relativity eliminated the previous theory (Newton’s laws of motion) and has been accepted as the best representative for reality in today’s world. Yet as we speak, a better theory (unified field theory) is being cautiously constructed, and the scientific community eagerly awaits the inevitable years of debate. Religious theories (aka: beliefs) are based on a feeling that something is true regardless of our observations, therefore requiring the proverbial leap of faith. This is fine unless you are taking that leap from the ladder of rationality, in which case the only direction is back down to the depths of ignorance.I fully support our president as the leader of our country, but only agree with him about half the time. His ever-increasing attempts at leading national policy changes by way of religious-based interventions is extremely dangerous, and a giant step backwards not only for our nation but the entire planet.If we were to allow this teaching of one particular religious thought concerning the origins of our universe in public schools, should we not teach them all? Norse mythology says we came from a giant cow; ancient Persia said a rhubarb plant was our basis; the Babylonians have one god killing another and using the leftovers to grow humans; Egyptians said we were the tears of a sad water god; Aztecs claim a C-section from a snake; Chinese say yin and yang floated down from the cosmos in the form of an egg; Japanese say a brother and sister (apparently parentless) stirred up the primordial seas of Japan to cook us into being; Hindus have more than 1,000 creation myths; Greeks have Gaia, Zeus and all the other Olympians; Christians, Jews and Muslims have a talking snake, a naive male, a gold digging female, and a fireproof bush.Each is metaphorical in nature, but none actually holding a candle to reality. In fact, none were supposed to. They were merely stories to fill a void, tales to satisfy cultural curiosities, fables to help explain the unknown.Intelligent design is simply not testable, and therefore cannot be taught as a science. While faith is nothing more than a willingness to await the evidence, evolution dictates nothing more than a constant reminder to either procreate or suffer the consequences of extinction. Our enigmatic universe behaves like a mindless machine, exhibiting no intelligent action of its own accord, no messages or means of communication anywhere in its composition, both which one might expect if a thinking “It” had played a part in its design. All living things on the planet thrive by survival of the fittest, not survival of the kindest, and the laws of physics show no more respect for a religious man than an atheist.As Christopher Hitchens, perhaps the greatest polemicist of our age, once said, “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” But if the far right persists in pushing intelligent design into the public schools, then I respectfully request that in order for all recognized religions to retain their tax-free status, they must be required to teach the theory of evolution within their sanctimonious walls as well.It would only be fair, right?Richard Carnes of Edwards can be reached at poor@vail.net. This column, as in the case of all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado


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