The Harrisburg Trial and the Clash over Evolution
"Intelligent Design": Stealth War on Science
Revolution #021, November 6, 2005, posted at revcom.us
"The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the nonexistence of God. From there, people are introduced to 'the truth' of the Bible and then 'the question of sin' and finally 'introduced to Jesus.'"
Phillip Johnson, architect of the "Wedge Strategy" for promoting Intelligent Design, in a 1999 article for Church and State magazine.
A president who consults religious lunatics about who should be on the Supreme Court... Judges who want prayer in school and the "ten commandments" in the courtroom… Born-Again fanatics who bomb abortion clinics… bible thumpers who condemn homosexuality as "sin"... and all the other Christian fascists who want a U.S. theocracy….
This is the force behind the assault on evolution going on right now in a courtroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Last year, the Dover city school board instituted a policy that requires high school biology teachers to read a statement to students that says Darwin's theory of evolution is "not a fact" and then notes that intelligent design offers an alternative theory for the origin and evolution of life--namely, that life in all of its complexity could not have arisen without the help of an "intelligent hand." Some teachers refused to read the statement, citing the Pennsylvania teacher code of ethics, which says, "I will never knowingly present false information to a student." Eleven parents who brought this case to court contend that the directive amounted to an attempt to inject religion into the curriculum in violation of the First Amendment. Their case has been joined by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The school board is being defended pro bono by the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian law firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. The case is being heard without a jury in Harrisburg by U.S. District Judge John Jones III, whom George W. Bush appointed to the bench in 2002.
In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that public schools could not teach the biblical account of creation instead of evolution, because doing so would violate the constitutional ban on establishment of an official religion. Since then Intelligent Design has been promoted by Christian fundamentalists as the way to get the Bible and creationism into the schools.
"This clever tactical repackaging of creationism does not merit consideration," Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union and a lawyer for the parents, told U.S. District Judge John E. Jones in opening arguments. "Intelligent design admits that it is not science unless science is redefined to include the supernatural." This is, he added, "a 21st-century version of creationism."
This is the first time a federal court has been asked to rule on the question of whether Intelligent Design is religion or science. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which opposes challenges to the standard model of teaching evolution in the schools, said the Pennsylvania case "is probably the most important legal situation of creation and evolution in the last 18 years," and that "it will have quite a significant impact on what happens in American public school education."
Proponents of Intelligent Design don’t say in the courtroom that they want to replace science with religion. But their strategy papers, speeches, and discussions with each other make it clear this is their agenda.
Intelligent Design (ID) is basically a re-packaged version of creationism--the view that the world can be explained, not by science, but by a strict, literal reading of the Bible. ID doesn’t bring up ridiculous biblical claims like the earth is only a few thousand years old or that the world was created in seven days. Instead it claims to be scientific--it acknowledges the complexity and diversity of life, but then says this all comes from some "intelligent" force. ID advocates don’t always openly argue this "intelligent force" is GOD--they even say it could be some alien from outer space! But Christian fundamentalists are the driving force behind the whole Intelligent Design movement and it’s clear… these people aren’t praying every night to little green men from another planet.
Phillip Johnson, considered the father and guiding light behind Intelligent Design, is the architect of the "wedge strategy" which focuses on attacking evolution and promoting intelligent design to ultimately, as Johnson says, "affirm the reality of God." Johnson has made it clear that the whole point of "shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God" is to get people "introduced to the truth of the Bible," then "the question of sin" and finally "introduced to Jesus."
Intelligent Design and its theocratic program has been openly endorsed by George W. Bush. Earlier this year W stated that Intelligent Design should be taught in the schools. When he was governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution. And he has made the incredibly unscientific, untrue statement that "the jury is still out" on evolution.
For the Christian fascists, the fight around evolution and teaching Intelligent Design is part of a whole agenda that encompasses reconfiguring all kinds of cultural, social, and political "norms" in society. This is a movement that is fueled by a religious vision which varies among its members but is predicated on the shared conviction that the United States is in need of drastic changes--which can only be accomplished by instituting religion as its cultural foundation.
The Christian fascists really do want--and are working for--a society where everything is run according to the Bible. They have been working for decades to infiltrate school boards to be in a position to mandate things like school prayer. Now, in the schools, they might not be able to impose a literal reading of the Bible’s explanation for how the universe was created. But Intelligent Design, thinly disguised as some kind of "science," is getting a lot more than just a foot in the door.
The strategy for promoting intelligent design includes an aggressive and systematic agenda of promoting the whole religious worldview that is the basis for ID. And this assault on evolution is linked up with other questions in how society should be run.
Marc Looy of the creationist group Answers in Genesis has said that evolution being taught in the schools,
"creates a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness, which I think leads to things like pain, murder, and suicide."
Ken Cumming, dean of the Institute for Creation Research's (ICR) graduate school, who believes the earth is only thousands of years old, attacked a PBS special seven-part series on evolution, suggesting that the series had "much in common" with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. He said,
"[W]hile the public now understands from President Bush that 'we're at war' with religious fanatics around the world, they don't have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement called Darwinists...."
After the 1999 school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, Tom DeLay, Christian fascist representative from Texas, gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, blaming the incident in part on the teaching of evolution. He said,
"Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud."
The ID movement attacks the very notion of science itself and the philosophical concept of materialism--the very idea that there is a material world that human beings can examine, learn about, and change.
Johnson says in his "The Wedge Strategy" paper,
"The social consequences of materialism have been devastating…we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist world view, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."
Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, points out:
"Evolution is a concept that applies to all sciences, from astronomy to chemistry to geology to biology to anthropology. Attacking evolution means attacking much of what we know of the natural world, that we have amassed through the application of scientific principles and methods. Second, creationist attacks on evolution are attacks on science itself, because the creationist approach does violence to how we conduct science: science as a way of knowing."
The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (another Christian think tank) says that it "seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies."
Teaching Intelligent Design in the schools is part of a whole Christian Fascist movement in the United States that has power and prominence in the government, from the Bush regime on down. And if anyone isn’t clear about what "cultural legacies" the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture wants to overthrow--take a look at the larger Christian fascist agenda that the intelligent design movement is part of: asserting patriarchy in the home, condemning homosexuality, taking away the right to abortion, banning sex education, enforcing the death penalty with the biblical vengeance of an "eye for an eye," and launching a war because "God told me [Bush] to invade Iraq."
The Science of Evolution and Anti-Evolution Creationism - An Assault on All of Science, in the Name of God
by Ardea Skybreak
Both series available at: revcom.us/s/evolution_e.htm
Includes analysis of Intelligent Design--See: Part 7e, "Creationism's New Wrapper Won't Fool Us: Intelligent Design Theory Is Still Just Religion--It's Still Not Science--And It's Still Wrong.")