Monday, December 03, 2007

Intelligent Design is a Political Question, Not a Scientific One

This article is unbelievable. Christine Castillo Comer, the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, was forced out of her position for forwarding an e-mail to a list-serve for science educators announcing a local talk by Barbara Forrest. Let that sink in -- forced out of her job for forwarding an e-mail about an upcoming lecture.

Barbara Forrest is co-author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design a book that chronicles the rise of the intelligent design infrastructure from a group of creationists seeking a sleazy way around church/state separation. She was a star witness at Dover -- the transcript is well worth a read.

So, the talk was not even one that examined science, but exposed intelligent design for the politically-based position it is...and Ms. Comer was not even giving the talk, just alerting people to it. So, even mentioning the fact that someone else will be talking about the truth about intelligent design is sufficient to get yourself fired from a position in science education in Texas.

And the line of these creationist folks, of course, is that they aren't trying to tell anyone what to think, they are trying to be fair and objective and let people make up their minds...unless, of course, you think it is a good idea to make up your mind once you actually have an understanding about the matter. That would be a case of bias.

Let's be clear, the debate here is NOT one of science; it's one of political power. Creationism/evolution is the next step after abortion -- which, again, is not about abortion, it's about a first step in Christianizing American law. Abortion was selected as the issue to put on the table because it was the easiest for the radical Christian right to frame to their advantage. The trick is to realize that they want to play the game on a pseudo-scientific ground stressing methodological issues like intellectual fairness while eliminating the real questions of science and certainly hiding the fact that this is at its heart a political issue, not a scientific or epistemological one. As such, it needs to be fought on our side as a political battle.

The move to place creationism up there with abortion and gay marriage as their political front line, however, is a major mistake. Since the end of WWII, we have been sold on the idea that science and technology are essential puzzle pieces in terms of our national security and our economy. We need to stop making the case in terms of the science. It is not a debate within the scientific community, it is a debate about whether science should be taken seriously in the political community. Once the debate is framed that way, they get hammered. That is exactly the line that Gross and Forrest take in Creationism's Trojan Horse and the line we ought to follow. the ID folks lost and lost big in Dover because it stopped being a discussion about science and became one of politics. THAT is the frame we need, because that is the truth of the matter and the frame that gives us the real advantage. These are political people trying to lead a revolution that would harm this country deeply. They seek to remove anyone who has political power who is not their advocate. These people are not concerned about science, they are concerned about power and we need to play hardball too. We need to fight back in the most advantageous way -- and it means exposing the man behind the curtain. We win the science battle if you are talking to science people, we win the political battle if we fight it out on political grounds.