Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Rejecting Intelligence

I'm surprised by the strong negative reaction, even among fellow J-bloggers, to the proposal that schools teach the Intelligent Design view as an alternative/supplement to classic Evolution Theory. I don't pretend to understand all the details of ID, but it seems to be a sober, reasonable hypothesis propounded by credentialed scientists, not a blind-faith creed preached by wide-eyed, pulpit-pounding fundamentalists. Just because the latter group may like ID more than Evolution, doesn't make ID necessarily wrong.

Furthermore, having been weaned on both science and Torah (my dad was a founder of the AOJS), I've always fervently believed that the two are complementary rather than contradictory. As regards creation, for example, I can believe in Evolution as the method used for the process of creation, while not losing sight of the key point - that God guided this process. And at least at a high level, ID seems to be just a variation on this philosophy.


At 8/23/05, 11:37 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Hi Elie,

I believe in G-d and I believe in evolution. But my personal belief is that creation was not 7 days in the traditional sense of 24 hour days, I think that it took much longer, eons if you will and that man did evolve from monkeys.

I can accept and believe that G-d's touch was involved in everything and that from the standpoint of putting things in motion G-d was involved.

But I cannot accept trying to reverse the Scopes Monkey trial et al under the guise of something called Intelligent Design and that is what most of the ID people are trying to do.

So I suspect that you and I are closer to agreement on this than not.

At 8/23/05, 11:49 AM, Blogger Elie said...

Definitely agree about the six days not being literal. I've also read that evolution can be harmonized with the story of Adam and Eve by viewing them as the first truly human beings in the sense of having neshamos and communicating with God.

I don't know whether ID per se holds water scientifically or not, but I definitely believe that evolution, whatever it's method, was guided by God, which is a fundamental departure from mainstream science which views it as haphazard and accidental.

At 8/24/05, 8:58 PM, Anonymous Yaakov Menken said...


The Intelligent Design theory involves only one key point. As summarized by
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
, "ID people do not reject the evidence for evolution, but dismiss on scientific grounds the likelihood that it could have taken place without the guidance of a higher intelligence."

Who that Intelligence might be is not something scientists can answer through scientific observation (without reference to Sefer Bereishis we would add: at least not at present) -- but they need not do so in order to reach the conclusion that evolution by happy coincidence is so fantastically improbable as to be at least as miraculous as the alternative.

This is why Jack's opposition is mistaken, and why opponents try to ridicule rather than address the evidence. It is not the purpose of ID to demonstrate that G-d or the Flying Spaghetti Monster created man -- just that an analysis of the probabilities involves leads inexorably to the conclusion that it simply could not have happened by chance.

At 8/24/05, 9:10 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...


Sorry Charlie, that is not how ID is being pushed through. A sizeable number of proponents could be called creationists and are not promoting real science or theory. It is repackaged claptrap and I do not support it.

Frankly I don't have any problem that things could have happened by chance.

It is entirely possible and plausible that G-d set things in motion and life did the rest.

At 8/24/05, 10:56 PM, Anonymous Yaakov Menken said...


Your argument is that since some proponents are creationists, therefore ID is false. I haven't heard anything from the ID-niks quite that illogical. As Elie said, the fact that "pulpit-pounding fundamentalists" like ID does not necessarily make it wrong.

You may not have a "problem" thinking that things could have happened by chance, but a series of scientists have now come forward and declared, on a strictly scientific basis, that the probability that the chain of proteins necessary to create life happened to come together is vanishingly small, and the same can be said for any number of steps in the evolutionary chain.

Can we agree to continue this on this blog rather than yours?

At 8/25/05, 2:05 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Hi Yaakov,

We can keep this discussion going here. That is fine with me. If you look at who is pushing hardest on ID you will see that a substantial proportion of them are as I initially posited.

Look at USA Today and you will see some salient points. Here is an excerpt:

For more than a century, scientists have overwhelmingly accepted the theory of evolution. As recently as the 1960s, however, teaching about the theory in schools was a crime in several states.

Even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned such laws in 1968, resistance continued. People offended or frightened by the notion of natural selection demanded the teaching of what they called "creation science," a thinly disguised version of the Bible's Genesis story with little or no grounding in science. That, too, was found to be unconstitutional, an attempt to preach one view of religion to a captive audience of many faiths in the public schools.

Now, activists in dozens of states and school districts are pushing to require the teaching of what they call "intelligent design," which ascribes creation to a vaguely undefined cosmic force that sounds a great deal like the God of Genesis but usually isn't named as such.

Kansas' Board of Education is busy this summer rewriting the state's biology curriculum standards to accommodate the demands of intelligent-design advocates. Ohio took similar action last year. School districts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere are requiring the teaching of what they call alternative theories of evolution, regardless of whether they have scientific validity.

With more creativity and less obstinacy, reasonable compromises might be found for school children to discuss conflicts between science and faith. But the subject is treated more as a game of capture the flag. Children and science teachers are made into political pawns of those with religious agendas.

Nearly one-third of teachers responding to a National Science Teachers Association survey this year said they felt pressured to include creationism, or its various political offspring, in their teaching about life's origins. The National Academy of Sciences says efforts to discredit evolution or push it out of the classroom are going on in at least 40 states. If those efforts succeed, many students will get a seriously distorted science education.

I think that this is very telling. It helps to demonstrate my point that many ID proponents are not engaged in sound theory but just sound. There are an awful lot of resources out there that provide additional support that the theory is weak and that the push is coming from people who have a creationist push that they have camoflauged and repackaged as ID.

The http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2005/KS/78_flawed_draft_of_kansas_standar_8_10_2005.aspNCSE had this to say As expected, on August 9, 2005, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 to send the latest draft of state science standards for external review. The latest draft, based on the so-called minority report composed with the aid of a local "intelligent design" group, the Intelligent Design Network, systematically deprecates the scientific status of evolution. Reuters reported that "[c]ritics say the moves are part of a continuing national effort by conservative Christians to push their secular views into the public education process," quoting NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott as saying, "This is neo-creationism, trying to avoid the legal morass of trying to teach creationism overtly and slip it in through the backdoor."

The bottom line for me is that I am not convinced that there is real scientific support for ID. I also am very wary of the torchbearers for ID because they have an agenda that doesn't make me real comfortable. And frankly I see that as a Conservative Xtian agenda that is interested in rolling back the clock. They may be and probably are good people, but the derech they walk is one that concerns me.


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