The great state of Kansas is requiring ninth-grade science teachers to present “creative intelligence” in science classes as an alternative to evolution. Creative intelligence, or its doctrinal cousins, creationism and intelligent design, depends on the existence of a supernatural force to explain the universe.
Scientists explain the natural world in a language that is evidenced-based. Creationism explains the universe as an “intelligent design” by a higher power, in a language that is faith-based. These are different stories: one is science that speaks in reproducible data, the other is faith that speaks of something beyond explanation.
I don’t believe these stories are incompatible; there are lots of good scientists who believe in God. The world of science and the world of God are not overlapping universes; one looks for explanations in the natural world, the other provides explanations in the existential world of morality and meaning. They are both good stories and without either, we would probably not survive as a species, but they don’t need to be given equal time from the same platform. This is not a debate.
Unfortunately, the Darwin vs. Divinity debate has been raging since 1860. Religious leaders, fearing that science would undermine their precepts attacked “Darwinism” (as they later attacked Freud who said religion was an illusion derived from our “instinctual wishful impulses”). In 1925, Tennessee teacher John Scopes was convicted in the famous “Monkey Trial”of violating a state law prohibiting the instruction of evolution. In 1948, the Supreme Court banned religious instruction in public schools, affirming First Amendment guarantees. In 1981, Arkansas passed The Balanced Treatment for Creation Science-Evolution Science Act, and it was declared unconstitutional the following year. But the idea that life created by an “intelligent designer” is science and deserves to be taught in public school science classes has enormous staying power. According to the American Museum of Natural History, less than half of all Americans believe in evolution. In today’s age of religious revivalism, we are still debating which one is right, and it’s ridiculous.
Our founding fathers drafted a Constitution whose First Amendment guaranteed separation of church and state. They bore witness to the price of persecution, religious fervor and zealotry as exemplified by the doofus, Rev. Pat Robertson. He’s the televangelist, who, a couple of weeks ago, issued a pronouncement warning the people of Dover, Pennsylvania, that God would strike them down with natural disasters, because they removed the school board members who favored teaching creationism in their public schools.
Both science and creationism tell a story that we need to pay attention to, but let’s not make it a debate in science class.