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The “Intelligent Design” of Monkey Business – Lessons from an American Classroom

Posted by inspir3d on February 1, 2007

The struggle between evolutionists and creationists has never been so cogent – as the world begins to define and sharpen itself through the process of globalization, schools of thought and states of mind are continuously being hammered, harmonized and reconciled into one extruded long stream of logic. Sticking up along like kinks on a smooth straight line remain two lumps strangely at odds with each other, standing at opposite lengths and eyeballing each other menacingly – they are the evolutionist and creationist.

Central to the evolutionist and creationist debate is how policy makers, educators and parents reconcile the eschatological gulf between these two opposing camps: to effectively profile an educational program to holistically explain both the sciences and the phenomenon of evolution without compromising on accuracy and depth – against this goal lies a complex tapestry of contradictions. For one, both creationist and evolutionist have rival narratives accounting for man’s origins, rival roadmaps about what the deeper meaning of life is, rival sets of philosophies governing change and stasis, and above all, rival endings about how the book of life will come to an end.

One way to understand the various aspects of this great divide is to look at its recent historical baseline in the US and chart its course to where it has settled these days. The present struggle over evolution is often seen by defenders of Darwinism as the clash of the titans in which creationism is a part of a general right-wing ideology that justifies the formation of a traditionalist autocratic class, wholly based on the ideal of protecting, “our way of life,” against assaults from post modernist adherents who they see as intent on overturning long held moral values into immoral compromises. These adherents are usually found in Marlboro land in the US (you know the cowboy who only shots blanks because he is puffing himself to extinction), more popularly known as the rural, South, the Midwest, and the Southwest, proudly counting themselves among the supporters of the current Bush Republican administration than among urban Northern Democrats (Coincidentally, this is also the place where they all believe aliens go around abducting people after getting bored of that, they go around forming crop circles.) 

The only reason why I felt the need to paint a cursory demographic picture of the Bible belt along with the adherents of modern day creationist – is because recently (1), they have been trying to grapple with the issue of reconciling religion and science, and tweaking their state run education system, in ways which we Singaporeans may be interested to glean knowledge from.

The stakes are high. As with any state or federal inspired plan to reform an education system, hanging on the balance is American technological supremacy which will have to emerge from the bed rock of a new generational cohort, schooled in hard nosed science and along with a sobering dose of Sunday school theology. Flowing from this expectation, it raises the question: is it possible to teach science while reconciling the various aspects of creationism? Are they (creationist – evolutionist theories) mutually exclusive concepts which will inexorably lead to polarization and isolation of teaching institutions along with their cachets of adherents, each preferring their unique and definable construct of how they wish to teach science alongside religion? It’s an issue that has far and wide implications for a multi faith country like Singapore, it’s also one that raises the specter whether this approach is predation or salvation against the long term goal of crafting a successful social, economic, technological and cultural framework – getting it right means successfully intercepting the future with a workforce that is best prepared to make the best opportunities of a technologically driven future.

To circumvent the constitutional stipulation which requires separating church from state, any mention of “God” and “Bible” in the schooling curriculum in the US is strictly prohibited. As a consequence, creationist have developed a Trojan horse module which they claim not only offers a holistic account of the creation myth, but also manages to make sense of fundamental scientific milestones to explain the evolutionary theory. Just in case anyone doubts that’s really possible, these adherents have even called their mother of all weapons of the minds, the “intelligent design.” (2) (Incidentally, this was also the same word the inventor of Segway, the obesity inducing people transporter, used when he proclaimed the end of cars and we all know where that intelligent design ended up.)

God, the Bible, and religion in general are never specifically mentioned in the doctrine of the “intelligent design.” Rather, it is claimed an objective examination of the facts of life makes it “patently” clear that organisms are “too complex” to have arisen by a process of the accumulation of naturally selected chance mutations (this people obviously change their socks on a daily basis) – which presupposes the existence of a blueprint conceived by an intelligent being! And, neither the showers of meteors nor the train halting words “let there be light!” in Genesis 1 are ever mentioned.

For some strange and incomprehensible reason, the proponents of ID insist most students would be able to link the supposedly intelligent being to the personage of God! Hence in this simplistic account of the simpleton – God is mentioned without ever being mentioned alongside the cold science of evolutionary theory. (if you wondering how 14th century kings and princes were conned into funding alchemy, which is the “science” of transforming lead into gold, look no further, “intelligent design” has all the hallmarks of modern day fantasia alchemy experiment gone wrong, bordering on the seemingly illogical which it manages to pass of as the logical – trust me this can only happen in America.)

Now don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of respect for American ingenuity, after all these were the people who once invented flying machines, helicopters, skyscrapers and egg beaters. But I remind myself, these are also the same people who believe in flying saucers, alien abductions and not only that, they believe, Elvis is still alive – and against the varied and rich texture of Americana mindscape, it doesn’t take a whole lot of processing power to figure out where exactly “intelligent design” fails to be intelligent.

For one, the probability of a fifth grader being able to deduce logically that the intelligent designer who presumably made the known world could be none other than God requires a quantum leap of imagination. That would only be true if kids these days played with cottage made wooden toys and straw dolls. In an age where Buzz Lightyear has murdered mothergoose with his plasma ray gun and Barney is a dinosaur presumably from outer space, the notion of an intelligent designer could well be anyone other than God. A visiting alien from outer space makes infinitely more sense.

That’s the point when ID begins to sound a bit like drivel, because it presupposes unwisely kids are able to logically surmise who the intelligent designer actually is. While failing to recognize such a vehicle of learning is flawed to the point of opening the floodgates for charlatans to paint the final features of the “intelligent designer” – charlatans like Eric Von Daniken, who has the dubious reputation of being the father of the ancient astronaut theory, who once proclaimed to the world, a six foot metal pole discovered in an obscure village in Bihar, India, was actually irrevocable proof of alien visitation, only to admit years later in a playboy magazine, it was actually an axle from a steam locomotive! Or an ancient Aztec metallic screen he once discovered under suspicious circumstances in a mysterious cave was evidence of an advanced alien communication device, only for some of his readers to find the same Barbecue grill being sold in Wall-Mart for $1.99. (Now you know why I hate those Von Trapp singing midgets in the sound of music, or anyone with a “von” in between their first and last name, that includes the red baron.)

That’s the trouble with half way truths – that’s what typically happens when educators tell only half the story (and given the constitutional restrictions on ID, even the best only manage a lousy job at best) and ID not only confuses kids, it also has the same mind boggling effect on adults. Don’t believe me? OK, hang on there for a while, while I fry your brains further with the third and final act of the “intelligent design.”

The problem with leaving a huge blank dotted line without specifically mentioning “God,” reduces “intelligent design” to a transparent subterfuge, at best. Given that the world we live, work and play in is so complex to have arisen in the first place without presumably the flawless foresight and planning skills of the “intelligent designer.” Pray tell, who then made the “intelligent designer?” Now you are really in trouble, because if the first part of ID is 101 science fiction for kiddies with plastic ray guns and space ships with smooth rounded edges so they would impale themselves while playing, we are moving to the realm of serious cognoscenti science fiction, which not only postulates, who were the original intelligent designers who produced us? But who produced them and them and them and them? It takes the whole discussion into the philosopher’s maze of what lies behind the wall, if space has an end? In truth this question leads to a whole universe of questions which the only serious sci-fi writers can answer (this could well be a case for agent Molder and Scully), and in so doing renders any possibility of clarity and coherency an impossibility when considering the merits of the “intelligent designer.”

What disturbs me about the whole notion of “intelligent design,” is its inherently crackbrained cavalier reach of even attempting to reconcile the great divide between creationism and evolutionist theory by a fairytale mind boggling mix of pseudo-scientific / post modernist interpretation of theology cum wheel of fortune, work play that merely confused, perplexes and sows the seeds for mysticism to take root further – that a theoretical construct is desirable only because it is able to circumvent the constitutional law (which prevents the specific mention of the “Bible” or “God”) while compromising on both scientific and theological accuracy by insisting on simple explanations for phenomena that are complex and diverse, remains a strange justification for anything that even remotely proposes to “educate.”

I am inclined to believe, this is one leaf of Americana we can do very well without and leave it pinned firmly in their book of “how to educate the young.” What we need instead is the much more examined approach to construct a theory of causation that flows directly from the phenomenon of creationism, be it Christianity, Islam or those who believe in the planet of the apes.

After all, even Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory himself, avoided the implications of that word which the world seems to ascribe to his benefit with such callousness. In all his writings about the origins of life and his latter works, the descent of man –he never once mentioned the word, “evolution.” If anything, this only goes to show the magnitude of the struggle between creationism and evolutionism and how it continued to vex us all, policymakers, educators, children and of course, those adherents who believe in that other “intelligent designer,” called the little green men.

Bibliography:

(1)    “The Creationist: How Many, Who, and Where?” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, Vol 24, No.5 (Sep-Oct) 2004.
(2)    “Fast Facts on False Teachings (Harvest House, 2003) Carlson / Decker 2003.

Research:

Finding Design in Nature, NYT July 7, 2005

“What they don’t teach you in Harvard – Monkey Business” – Darkness/ Brotherhood Press 2006.

“The Extended Phenotype: The gene of unit selection (Freeman Press 1982)

(Nacramanga / Astroboy / Education / Religion / Sociology – The Brotherhood Press OP34993832/2007)

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15 Responses to “The “Intelligent Design” of Monkey Business – Lessons from an American Classroom”

  1. J.Austen said

    My heart aches for harpoonboy, he doesnt even know how to fight and bambie is not around to protect them. All my prayers and love.

  2. Harpoon? Stick with writing about economic theories and your vague interpretation of film. Something more complicated like the evolutionary/creationist debate seems to be something beyond your ken. There’s enough varying degrees of debate, talk, noise pollution regarding this issue that it really doesn’t need your “labyrinthian sesquipedalian syntax”, ahem, overly complicated sentences to add to the issue. I use the word “add” loosely, with hints of irony.

    To anyone else interested in the subject beyond a cursory examination, (www.talkorigins.org) is a comprehensive database of the evolutionary/creationist debate over the past few decades. It also has the benefit of being written in a clear, simple style designed for accesible reading.

    Other readings would include.

    The Blind Watchmaker – Richard Dawkins (Dawkins is a strong proponent of the evolutionary debate, unfortunately his understanding of theology is weak and his arguments against religions comes off more as a screed rather than a dispassionate scientific invalidation)

    Finding Darwin’s God – Kenneth Miller (It’s more a personal attempt at understanding the common ground for theological understanding and evolutionary fact and theory, by an Christian evolutionary biologist)

    The Bible – Various (it helps to read the first few testaments with a literary eye firmly rooted with mythological, metaphorical, oral storytelling traditions. Find the spirit of the word, not the letter of the law.)

    Various others.

    In short, while I agree that ID is largely a steaming pile of horse-manure, your current article appears to be nothing more than a screed that will divide the issue of people actually trying to reconcile their faith with evolutionary science.

  3. BL said

    This quote from Einstein might be of help to this article:

    “Two things puzzles me in the search for reality, the Universe and human stupidity.”

  4. And another from Richard Russo

    “Everyone is stupid, but me.”

  5. inspir3d said

    haha, PP, harphoon didnt write this article… LOL

  6. Dammit, I should read better

  7. virginia said

    Harpoon et al.

    ID definitely sounds like a desperate attempt to bridge the gap between the sciences and faith. I lived in

    I agree at the end of the day, all educators will have to address this “divide” with or without the govt or ministry. It’s after all an issue that goes right down to the teacher and student level. God forbid what if my 7 yr old throws the question,

    “Teacher, teacher is it true we came from monkeys?”

    Teacher: Hold on a second, let me look up the MOE guideline, in comes (as you mentioned) the little men from the space ships LOL.

  8. sphgirl said

    http://arn.org/docs/dewolf/guidebook.htm#3

    If you want more detailed info on ID, its certainly a hornet’s nest, if ever there was one.

  9. 0apjiyukk9 said

    pretentious poopiehead,

    Regarding the issue on cryptic film interpretations, your own comments regarding the earlier article on Casablanca does not seem completly exempt from the need of clarification. Your assertion that all the other interpretations were not merely inadequate but also in error as well as narrowing the “fame?” of the movie to a particular idea of masculinity of the lead actor seems to require a slightly “broader” kind of comprehension in order for the reader to make sense of:

    “You’re all wrong. Every single one of you. The reason why Casablanca is so famous is because it represents the last thorough vestige of Humphrey Bogart’s sexiness. He, the epitome of manly appeal brought low by the current culture of effeminate male celebrities. It’s a conspiracy I tell you, the vaginal terrors of marketing have brought low the ideology of man, turning our once proud phallic power into metrosexual angst, trading our fedoras for body butter, our witty apathy for emo whinging.”

    In which like Harphoon (but obviously with less elaboration), you seek to diagnose some kind of social malaise (in this case the sweeping statement of the death of masculinity due to a conspiracy of modern marketing) from within the analogy of a film. One is left to wonder whether you feel your own indictment of vague interpretations of film are applicable to yourself.

    More to the point and leaving out the irony on the complaint of sentence complexity. I believe the authors were (perhaps with a measure of polemic) merely stating the position that the current “cultural” struggle between creationist and evolutionist in America has led to the development of a discourse of Intelligent Design that may lead to a suprising and perhaps eventually unhelpful results. If ID is merely a functional theory – ie. that it is not argued primarily on its own scientific or theological merits, but to bridge the gap then it might do injustice to both sides of the gap. If that is where it derives its strength from in this battle of “culture” – then perhaps the damage may be done to the supporters themselves.
    Their approach is to paint a picture of a demographic of supporters who may not have the best grasp of science and also have a disposition to believe in the mystical. Their contention is that ID might prove detrimental to creationist even within this demographic by (rightly or worngly) claiming that leaving a God-shaped hole in ID (when its purpose was to defend God) it can easily be used to abuse the sensibilities or a more belief orientated people. Aliens were the specific example used in this argument – but u might conceivably think of other kinds of extrapolations eg. the use of ID to define what God wants or his attributes from fragmentary evidence in the natural world. If the authors are right and that the primary reasons for ID are cultural and not from a more diligent and conscious examination of both our beliefs and also our knowledge of the world – its proponents may be constructing an unstable “intellectual position.
    A position where in order to defend God we are silent about him.
    A position where in order to understand the world he created, God himself must be defended against it.

    There is little exegesis by the authors on the particular scientific or theological points of the heated debate (from quantam physics and free will to anthropic coincidences and irreducible complexities), it is perhaps not their main contention. They do not claim to have solve it.

    “If anything, this only goes to show the magnitude of the struggle between creationism and evolutionism and how it continued to vex us all, policymakers, educators, children and of course, those adherents who believe in that other “intelligent designer,” called the little green men.”

    Their contention is that ID may be ‘function’ driven and given some attributes or its position and those that support it, the danger is that ID might backfire not only on Science, but on those who have faith in God.
    Of course your position is that ID is a “steaming pile of manure”, and you set out several books that are rather anti-ID (Miller’s book says Darwinism (and other assorted scientific theories) enforces faith rather than is set against it). Yet perhaps you are missing the point of the argument. The noise is not ‘added’ to the debate against or for the scientific or theological points of ID but rather that ID itself may be functionally unstable. If you believe that God created the world as in Genesis, it may be better for your faith if you just expressly give him the credit.

    As for “your current article appears to be nothing more than a screed that will divide the issue of people actually trying to reconcile their faith with evolutionary science.”

    I think you have submitted that your own views on the subject of functional.
    A question of the primary and dire need to bridge the gap.

    Rather than to accept that perhaps our science ( or perhaps our faith) is unable to completely bridge the gap at the moment and that we need not compromise on either.

  10. Astroboy said

    Hi 0apjiyukk9,

    Just to clarify, this article was penned by one of our 1st tier writers, nacramanga.

    Who as you can see took a swipe at ID bc he firmly believes, it is premised on a facile assumption whose only merit bears repeating i.e orkham’s razor.

    “kids can make a valued judgement as to who the intelligent designer is.”

    When we all know they may not necessarily have the faculties to derive at the right conclusion – his main contention is: ID is essentially a compromised solution to a hubris which continues to vex educators and policy makers no end, bc they need to reconcile themselves with the realities i.e constitutional law vis-a-vis separation of powers – hence specific reference to a higher deity, in the form of YWH or “God” is disallowed – he goes on to rubbish this compromised construct which he describes as a “half way house.”

    Against this “half way house” theory – he correctly highlights the ambiguity as to who actually is the “intelligent designer?”

    In the process of shoring up his position, he throws up flying saucers and little green men, to illustrate the counter argument as to what happens when a narrative needs is corsetted by state inspired restrictions and how it actually generates more problems instead of solving them.

    In the Singaporean context, ID or any education policy that proposes to do the same cast long and disturbing shadows as Virginia has rightly pointed out – what does a teacher do when she is posed with a question which compels her to choose the “truth” – and since the “truth” in this context remains largely a matter of faith,faithless or policy ruling – it can never go very far in answering the question satisfactorily – not in a multi faith society, at least.

    That I believe is the main issue – how do policy makers and educators address the divide of creationist vs evolutionist at this rudimentary level – on a grander scheme of things although, the article doesnt explore how this divide may continue to militate against inter-faith understanding on where we came from or where we are heading – you can well see again, deep and disturbing shadows are cast, once again the author rubbishes ID further.

    Central to the debate is how can we as a multi-faith nation define faith vs science – as you can all see it is one, that continues to vex all of us – hence, I suspect this is the reason, why nacramanga specifically mentioned how even Darwin himself strategically shyed away from any directional reference by not using the word – evolution.

    It remains very much a hubris in every sense of word – how can the divide be effectively reconciled?

    I think one way to clarify this debate is to post an earlier article he wrote abt the corrosive effects of faith based politics – I shall try to dig it up and post it here earliest – then perhaps we will all have a deeper appreciation of the geo political complexities sorrounding this issue.

  11. 0apjiyukk9 said

    Astroboy,

    No worries. I only referred to the writer Harphoon in response to the charge of film interpretation. For the rest of the article – I referred to its “authors” but I did not specifically mention your top tier writer.

    You are accurate in noting that I did not transport the argument to the context of Singapore where a multi-faith enviroment may create greater difficulties in bridging what is to be known as the gap between “creationist/evolutionist”. Thank you for pointing that out, I had read the piece more on the instabilities of ID rather than it informing policy concerns on education, geo-politics or religious cohesiveness.

    And on the otehr hand, perhaps I stressed the need to bridge as a reason for why ID might not be a stable proposition when perhaps the real argument was how do educators and policy makers deal with this diffculty.

    You have my apologies.

    I agree that the argument that Nacramanga (and yourself?) posited does not seek to propose a final solution to the divide between science and faith. It is as you say hubris. I hope I did not misrepresent your position on this.

  12. Astroboy said

    0apjiyukk9

    Not at all, if anything, you raised once again very insightful points concerning ID, much appreciated for shedding more light on this issue.

  13. 0apjiyukk9 said

    Thanks once again Astroboy,

    I would be indebted if you could perhaps uncover the article on faith-based politics. If only to see where Nacramanga will take us.
    If Intelligent Design is a bubbling cauldron of controversy, A topic on faith in politics may be the entire soup-kitchen.

  14. Michael said

    This whole debate can be summed up in one line from the bible. (the most historically accurate book in the world per the Smithsonian Institution)

    Professing themselves wise, they became as fools..

    Anyone who looks “objectively” at the science behind creationism has to logically conclude that evolution is smoke and mirrors. Its theories cannot be supported by objective scientific fact. Not with an open mind to scientific theory, hypothesizes and what micro biology tells is today. Not what we thought about science when this so called Darwinian Genius was alive but today!

    Worse yet for scientist all over the world whose minds have been underdeveloped by evolutionist’s erroneous propaganda is that real science has suffered. Many of the founding beliefs supporting modern day microbiology are so off from the true creation science that we are stifling great minds with a false platform from which to build real scientific advances.

    Think of it this way. If creationism is correct, and it is, then much of what we believe, teach in our institutes of higher learning is wrong. We are brainwashing generation after generation into evolution science that is based in fantasy.

    Far too much has been discovered in the last 20 years for anyone with an OPEN mind to possibly still believe in the lie of evolution. Of course if your great, great, grandma was an ape or a monkey, I guess you can’t see that. 

    When you KNOW the facts, one can easily conclude that it takes far more faith to believe in evolution with the absence of all current scientific foundational support than it does to understand the true and real science of creationism.

    If you have a lot MORE FAITH than I have, continue to believe the joke called evolution. If on the other hand, you enjoy REAL science, open your mind the truth. God did this all and every atom and molecule in the known universe screams that out in 2007 modern day analysis of the facts.

    You want facts, open your monkey size evolution brain and play this video. It has some of the most gifted, brightest intellects known on the world today. It’s really that simple. http://leestrobel.com/

  15. astroboy said

    welcome crystal fuji, we have all been expecting you. Our resident bible thumper

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