Monday, April 17, 2006

Challenging Bambenek Part Two

Mr. Bambenek is concerned that no one critiqued his ravings point by point. He assumed that because no one did, no one could. Bad assumption.

I am no atheistic evolutionist. I don’t reject God. I was raised Catholic and much of my current Faith is based on those teachings. However, I know that science and theology are two separate fields of study. I know, too, that Fundamentalist Christians will take any step they can to put prayer and religion in our public schools. That may not be the point of Bambenek’s column, but supporting ID ultimately has that effect to some degree.

As for the DI column, it is rife with flaws. It makes false assumptions and states unsubstantiated allegations. It is also poorly written, using a weak analogy and an out-of-place flippant remark.

Ward Churchill said in a recent appearance on Fox News that professors should be in the business of "challenging assumptions" and presenting "opposing points of view." He summed up what a university should be.

A University can spin its wheels spoon-feeding its students opposing points of view, or students can be taught to seek their own answers. For my money, I’d like a professor to teach the most established ideas, state that they are most established, and then challenge me to seek alternatives through inquiry. The University should then make resources available for that process, such as Internet access, libraries, and human resources.

In the intelligent design debate, we can clearly see that the University fails to live up to the ideal. Intelligent design is disregarded as "religious nonsense" and banned from the classroom with all the zealotry one would expect to find at a book burning. The charge? Challenging established orthodoxies.

Where is this policy? Where does it say a professor cannot present this idea? Such connotation with the idea of “book burning” exists that I would hope the author would cite specific policies.

By denying intelligent design any space in the academy (at times with less than ethical means), they have declared that there are forbidden questions that may not be asked.

Again, where is the proof? Who at the UI has made less than ethical decisions? Am I simply to believe this is true because my local DI columnist and ID zealot said so?

The placement of restrictions on the question of how life began is the same behavior that fundamentalists visited upon science leading up to the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Fundamentalists allowed no question of six-day Creationism. Decades later, the scientific community has returned the favor. They have come full circle and become what they hate.
Not content with simply ridiculing it out of the realm of inquiry, some have brought the force of law to bear with the ACLU. It is interesting to see the so-called defenders of liberty suggest that in order to protect freedom, free inquiry cannot be allowed. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. You know the drill.

Yes. Someone disagrees with your point of view, and so we pull out the Orwellian analogy. How sophomoric. The scientific community should not concern itself with religion. It should pose theories and test them. Here, the author addresses the scientific community, but he set out to attack the University in general. Which is it? Can we have some focus?

The foes of intelligent design like to throw out the charge that it is not scientific. If by scientific you mean "capable of being confirmed or disproved by observation or experiment" then you would be correct. But you would also be stating that evolution as a theory of creation is not scientific.
Evolution as a biological force is easily observed. Evolution as a theory of creation, however, is completely flaccid. The primordial soup theory is novel and interesting but, at best, it is a theory that fits the facts. It has never been observed or tested and cannot be. We have never seen life come from non-life. There is a strong metaphysical case to be made for that being the way it played out, but it's firmly in the realm of metaphysics, not science.

Okay, which UI class teaches this theory as scientific fact? Does one exist?

They argue that evolution is scientifically complete and therefore, by exclusion, eliminates intelligent design.

Where is someone at UI making this argument?

The irony is that while they use this argument, science itself doesn't believe that it has all the facts on evolution. With the discovery of tiktaalik roseae - essentially a fish with feet - last week, scientists lavished accolades on finding one of the "missing links."
Why celebrate an established fact? When I search for a burrito, I don't shout "Eureka!" when I cross the threshold of Dos Reales. The answer is simple - there are gaps and limitations in what we know about where we came from. That is why we're still searching.

Nice….some local color. A brilliant use of the burrito. But where did someone say evolution was anything but a theory? Where did the scientific community say it is Law? Until then, I think the scientific community is correct in celebrating steps toward greater understanding.

The underlying conflict is just another battle of the same war fought in many different fields in the modern experience. The two camps can be summarized as "man is made in the image and likeness of God" and "God is made in the image and likeness of man."

Very nice! If I disagree with ID, I am against God. Can’t I say that I have Faith in God and at the same time believe that evolutionary principles are at work?

Instead of trying to search out the truth free of presuppositions, science chooses arguments and theories that make the assumption that God must not exist. Anything challenging that assumption is labeled heresy and discarded, quite unscientifically. That's why theories that aliens brought life to Earth are O.K. while intelligent design is not.

I never had a science instructor tell me God didn’t exist. Science and theology are separate fields of study. I don’t want a science teacher telling me about Jesus, and I don’t want my theologian preaching about the Periodic Table of Elements.

At the end of the day, maybe Darwin wins out on explaining life. I make no claim to omniscience other than being a DI columnist who is, by definition, all-knowing. However, the search for truth is not served by strapping on the blinders of a comfortable and undisturbed orthodoxy.

Your flippant remark undercuts the serious discussion you attempt to begin. As for the search for truth, you are right about strapping on blinders. Who could be more without vision than someone who fails to see ID for what it is, a veiled attempt to throw Creationism into the science curriculum?

Is there a class on intelligent design at the University? (I couldn't find one). If not, why not? The intellectual mind is not served by denying any challenge to assumptions and rejecting opposing points of view without consideration.

So, unless we teach a class on the topic, we are rejecting it? Why do you blindly assume the topic hasn’t been considered? Because no one told you about it?

For those interested in learning more on intelligent design, please attend the talk on it at 7 p.m. on April 18 in the Lewis Lounge at Newman Hall.



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