Saturday, January 15, 2005

Delusions of Martyrdom

The title phrase for this posting is lifted from Thomas Frank's, What's The Matter With Kansas? My reading of Mr. Frank's book prompted me to start a new blog yesterday, "The Escondido Review," in which I plan to write about books and the arts.
Frank uses this phrase in his discussion of the way that anti-evolutionists have cast themselves as victims of intolerance and bigotry in the ongoing battle against the teachin of evolution in public schools.
Anyone who scans through the postings of recent days on this blog will see that evolutionism vs. creationism has become something of a hot issue for me. Makes sense. I was trained as a biochemist before veering off into several careers that had little or nothing to do with the life sciences.
Anyway ... I do want to say a little something about "intelligent design" because there is a level at which I consider myself a proponent of this idea. I don't think that should be controversial. I believe it is a position that those in the scientific community should be able to support or dispute based on their own beliefs.
I think it should be simple. Because here is all that I think needs to be said on the matter:
While the evidence is overwhelming that life on the Earth developed over hundreds of millions of years through the processes of natural selection and evolution, reasonable people may disagree over how those processes were set in motion and guided.
Many scientists see sufficient evidence in the geological and paleontological record to show that these developments were natural manifestations of the laws of physics and chemistry. Others, wondering at the complexity and diversity of life that has evolved, believe that a guiding intelligence must have had a role in this. Those beliefs are related in the creation stories that are central to many of the world's religions. And it is to the world of religion that they belong. The scientific record must be taught and related on its own merits. That is the nature of science, to develop theory based on observation and experiment. The religious beliefs of humans must also be taught and related on their merits. Each individual will make a decision about whether and how to assimilate these two strains of thought. There is no need to mix the two in the classroom beyond a simple recognition of their existence, and a pledge of mutual respect.
That's it. No threats. No accusations. No delusions of martyrdom. Live and let live, so to speak.