9/18/07

Intelligent Design = It's Deism

Our friends (we miss them) over at Canonist Does Intelligent Design Need A Specific Emotional Cocktail? criticized a Slate article by Will Saltetan that says:
Proponents of ID claim that complex systems found in nature-the cell, the bacterial flagellum, the immune system-are evidence of "intelligent activity" by a designer. But what kind of intelligence? Is the designer brutal or loving, jealous or forgiving? Look at the ancient crocodilelike predator we just dug up. Its mouth is a perfect killing machine. Does the same intelligence that designed us design our murderers?
Canonist asks:
Why does any of that matter to the basics of the theory? And, further, his examples - Pat Robertson (vindictive God) and Pope Benedict XVI (loving God) - probably have provided numerous quotes indicating the precise opposite position.
This kind of red-herring assessment doesn't do much for Saletan's argument, and it's unusual to see him resort to this.
I said over there, "As I see the argument underlying that article: if ID is not science and is really theology, then it is fair game to pose the whole range of theological questions to the proponents. Is the designer brutal or loving, jealous or forgiving? These are classic theological concerns and quite apropos of ID - because it is theology under a wig and a funny nose." (I like to quote myself. Occasionally I agree.)

There's a lot of verbiage out there in the press on this Intelligent Design Debate. So where do I stand on ID? It's Deism plain and simple. It should be taught in American public schools in the history curriculum. Many of our founding fathers were deists. Students will find it curious to know about this arcane chapter of our early colonial culture. All Deists: Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington (though he kept his religion to himself) .

Franklin wrote cleverly, "Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

What then do the fundamentalists expect to achieve by preaching and promoting Deism? Do they even know anything about how they may accomplish "quite contrary to what was intended by them" by teaching it?

-repost from 11/05

2 comments:

Bryce said...

" ID... should be taught in American public schools in the history curriculum. "

Assuming you're OK with evolution being taught in the science classes, what would you suggest be the recourse of those who complain to the principal that they are being taught contradictory things in the same day?

Case in point:

"The present teaching in schools permits the following absurdity: at 10 a.m. the pupils attend a lesson in the catechism, at which the creation of the world is presented to them in accordance with the teachings of the Bible; and at 11 a.m. they attend a lesson in natural science, at which they are taught the theory of evolution. Yet the two doctrines are in complete contradiction. As a child, I suffered from this contradiction, and ran my head against a wall. Often I complained to one or another of my teachers against what I had been taught an hour before -- and I remember I drove them to despair. Hitler's Secret Conversations October 24, 1941

Bryce said...

"What then do the fundamentalists expect to achieve by preaching and promoting Deism?"

The leaders of the Discovery Institute, if you did your homework, are generally not fundamentalists.

"Do they even know anything about how they may accomplish "quite contrary to what was intended by them" by teaching it?"

This sort of fear never stopped you from blogging, did it?