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.