Intelligently Designing Science

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Let’s go ahead and open a can of worms on a geek-oriented website. For a while now I’ve been toying with my thoughts on intelligent design, where do I really stand? Since I was 16, and madly in love with Cmdr. William Riker of the Starship Enterprise, I have been a believer and advocate of intelligent design. To be precise, of a young Earth, the 7 days of creation kind of intelligent design. I also enjoy looking at the science behind things, the patterns, the developments, the growth. So 14 years later, raising a curious son in America instead of England, and working in the school system, I often find myself asking my 16 year old self some questions. It seems a young man called Aidan Dwyer in New York state has given me another way to get to grips with my own thoughts on the subject, though not necessarily a new one. Using an oak tree as his model, he designed a solar installation based on the Fibonacci sequence, he found this sequence helped the Oak tree achieve it’s growth. He won a 2011 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History. One of my English G+ friends posted this article under the heading “God got there first again,” which got me thinking again.

I know a lot of people scoff at my beliefs, I scoff at quite a few of theirs, but hopefully we can all respect each other’s opinions and persons enough not to get rude about it. Hmm, what world do I live in? Ah yes, the 24th Century! Quite honestly, I think that the writers of The West Wing put it best in the show’s final season. Using the presidential campaign to broach the subject, the democratic nominee, played by the dashing Jimmy Smitts quipped “I believe in God, and I’d like to think he is intelligent” as a way to broach this tricky subject. Later, in a classroom setting, he was asked to talk more about his position and I think the show’s creators handled this ticking time bomb of a subject with remarkable aplomb. They put forward the notion that science is science, it is based on things we can touch and calculate and is therefore taught in school as an academic subject. Scientific theory is debated and discussed in the classroom. Intelligent design on the other hand is a system of thought based on belief and faith, not on things that can be calculated. It has no place being taught alongside scientific theory. It is something that is taught in the home, at ones place of worship, it is based on a system of beliefs and should not be taught in schools. Or as Jimmy puts it, “can’t we agree that the inclusion of non-scientific explanations into the science curriculum of our schools misrepresents the nature of science?” This episode aired as part of the show’s seventh season, in October 2005.

I will admit that my view is slightly skewed, I come from a country where Religious Studies is/was a mandated class up to the age of 14. I would leave RST and go straight to Biology or History class. We learned about Judaism, Islam, the many different shades of Christianity to name just the big three. I was taught by a Jew, a Quaker and an atheist. I visited mosques and cathedrals. I was exposed to all religions as academic subjects, as part of our history. Life application was not taught, that I had to pick up outside of school and didn’t until I was 16. Personally I think knowledge leads to more tolerance and it’s a shame we can’t teach these things to our children in the US, I already lament it in Toby’s public education.

I have often heard it said that there is a fine line between Freedom of Religion and Freedom from Religion. Can of worms? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to raise the level of debate in this country.

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