Friday, December 23, 2005
  Intelligent Design, Science Class and faith
I know this is a day late, but still, it was with relief that I saw the notices that Judge Jones in Pennsylvania has ruled that Intelligent Design has no place in a biology class. I agree wholeheartedly. Like the push to rename Christmas displays and festivals with non-Christian nomenclature so that government to continue to celebrate Christmas, the move to rename creationism so it can be slipped into the science curriculum under a different guise is a basket of rotten red herring that needs to be heaved into the compost heap.

Let's be clear here -- I probably subscribe to something that could be called intelligent design. That is, I don't believe (and never have believed) that the Big Bang just happened spontaneously. That goes against basic scientific principles I was taught as a child. Thus, I think that there had to be a cause of the Big Bang. Perhaps science will someday come up with an explanation that is purely physical, but the idea that some intelligent being set up the parameters and the conditions, amassed the physical elements, etc to create the Big Bang and all the subsequent, unfolding history of the Universe seems reasonable to me.

I read passages in the Qur'an about Adam and Eve (and Noah and the flood, Abraham's survival in the fire, the switching of Ismail and the ram as sacrifices, the turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, etc, etc) as parables akin to Aesop's fables, meant to teach moral lessons not to relate history verbatim. No one has problems getting the message of the Lion and the Mouse, while acknowledging that lions and mice do not talk to each other, that a lion is not going to stop and listen to a mouse while it is in the middle of eating it, or that a mouse is not going to chew a lion out of a net in gratitude for having been released, etc, etc. So too, no one should have a problem getting the lessons of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (et al), while accepting that the story is not 100% factual.

Other passages in the Qur'an about the creation of the universe are coherent with a notion of a God who creates through natural laws. Passages which indicate that God stands outside human Time, passages talking about the orbits of the sun and the earth and the moon. Passages talking about how solids were separated out from air, the rain cycle, the separation of the salty water and the fresh, etc, etc, etc.

Having said all that -- I would never teach that as part of a science curriculum. I would present it in a religion class, and I am a firm believer that public school should have classes in world religion, but it isn't scientific. It is faith. That is why it is called faith to begin with -- because you can't know, you can only believe, take it on faith, as it were.

Perhaps someday we will be able to measure God quantifiably, until that time, faith is only a matter of belief, even if we feel that we know God and know that He/She/It exists. It may be deep belief, one held firmly, and based upon mystical experiences (which as an atheist I experienced as a connectedness to the totality of the Universe, not as a touching of the Divine), but it is still belief, a conviction, not something that has been scientifically proven.

Yes, there are people who say that the result is proof enough of the cause, but I recall an argument a long time ago that I read about a clock. The argument ran that one might come across a clock, sealed and locked so one could not determine the inner workings. One might come up with an explanation of how the clock worked, and, indeed, one might come up with the correct explanation, but until you cut through the lock and exposed the inner workings, you could not know if you had the correct explanation or not. It could be something totally different from what you thought. This is the way I see God. Perhaps some day we will discover how to cut through the barriers that separate the Divine and the Mundane, but until then we won't know if God as the cause of the universe is a fact, or just a satisfying explanation. And until that day, God has no place in the scientific curriculum, either as the Creator in Seven Days, or as the Intelligent Designer who set off the Big Bang.
 
Comments:
I don't believe any of that hubub about the so-called "war against xmas" that so many right wingers are frothing at the mouth about. In fact, xmas IS a synchretic holiday if you just take in mind all the different religious and cultural practises that are now squished into a quasi-Christian holiday. Fact remains, it was around before Jesus, hence it didn't have him in the beginning anyway...

On that note, happy Saturnalia ;)
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

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English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
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Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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