Monday, July 17, 2006

Support of Intelligent Design in the Conservative Press

One of my posts was recently placed on Talk Reason site, and I received a response from a reader who suggested that I was being unfair by lumping conservatives all together as creationism supporters.

I think this is an issue that's important to highlight. Without exception, as far as I know, the leading opinion journals in the conservaticve press have all publiched major pieces by Intelligent Design's promoters. Furthermore, as far as I've been able to see, not one of these opinion journals has published a major hard-hitting rebuttal in the vein of Allen Orr's New Yorker piece, or Jerry Coyne's New Republic piece. In fact, essentially every rebuttal of ID that I have read in a publication like the Weekly Standard or the National Review has criticized ID while still showing a lot of sympathy; most article also rip on evolutionary biologists even while they're trying to rebut ID's claims.

The fact that the mainstream conservative press has given ID such a sympathetic hearing is appalling. Imagine how loony it would be if The New Republic ran occasional articles promoting a pseudoscientific, New Age alternative to quantum mechanics. Intelligent Design shouldn't be an issue among people who value their intellectual integrity.

Just to show how pervasive this thinking is in the conservative press, I'm posting a link to New Republic survey of leading conservative writers.

Very few come out and give almost the right answer, like Charles Krauthammer:

"The idea that [intelligent design] should be taught as a competing theory to evolution is ridiculous. ... The entire structure of modern biology, and every branch of it [is] built around evolution and to teach anything but evolution would be a tremendous disservice to scientific education. If you wanna have one lecture at the end of your year on evolutionary biology, on intelligent design as a way to understand evolution, that's fine. But the idea that there are these two competing scientific schools is ridiculous."

Many others still somehow seem to think evolution is at least partially a liberal plot. They seem to accept that ID has valid criticisms of evolution, although I'm sure none of them know enough about biology to explain why those criticisms are valid.

The best I can say for them is that they really don't know how professional science works, and how well evolutionary theory works. And that's a strong argument for better biology education.

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