2006-03-03 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

By Harold L. Bendelstein, MD

A recent cable TV broadcast presented intense acrimonious criticisms against those that have posited the idea to teach intelligent design in biology high school curriculums. Intelligent design supports the idea that organic life is so complex that its transformation to higher organisms and man cannot be explained alone in the theory of evolution. The resultant corollary thus invokes the idea that a higher being must have interjected into the process to allow the emergence of the myriad creatures and man that inhabit the world today.

In it of itself, such arguments to disallow such a point of view into the minds of high school students is arguable. It was, however, the vehemence to the opposition of such a concept that appeared repugnant. The scorching antagonism was so palpable and odious that it had to reflect some more deep-seated resentment and hatred that propels far beyond the realm of mere disagreement. Such would be antagonists to this idea have accused its proponents of intransient opposition to the opposition to the advancement of learning and education, and of creating a platform that would abrogate the scientific method, engendering an absolutely stifling effect on the forward movement of all science itself.

In truth, the above controversy is a segment of the overall culture war that permeates the United States today. Progressive liberal secularists desire to eradicate all mention of God and religion out of the framework of American society. Such manifest examples are their hyperbolic understanding of the separation of church and state, which seeks to sever any connection between religion, government and social policy. The resultant outgrowth of such a viewpoint has included supportive organizations, like the ACLU, instituting lawsuits to prohibit Christmas trees and Menorah exhibits on any public property, an opposition to the universal religious position that marriage is between a man and a woman, and an advocacy to advance gay marriage and mainstream gay lifestyle even to its indoctrination to grade school students. Such positions have further led to machinations to remove God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the removal of the chaplainry from the military and all public institutions, and considerations to extirpate “in God we trust” from all American currency. These secular progressives are clearly devoid of any religious convictions. The mainstay of this movement, the community of liberal university professors, and the Hollywood and arts establishment, see God and religion as the absolute impediment to the fulfillment of their vision of American society. Within this system of reasoning is the dogmatic assessment that they are the only truly enlightened and progressive thinkers on the American vista, while the vast majority of Americans, 90% of whom believe in God and profess religious connections, are a mere mass of provincial idiotic boobs, who fail to appreciate the genius of the liberal nirvana.

Paradoxically, it is these supposed open-minded social philosophers that seem to rant the most against any diversity that counters their singular liberal positions. Years back there was indeed a wide gulf between the secular educated elite and the general population at large. At the time when the Scopes Monkey Trial raged, secular progressives represented the core of scientific knowledge and opinion in America. Its opponents had scant, if any, exposure or ingrained level of the sciences. They did, however, have strong religious convictions. The liberal scientists had none, and a raw disdain for all religious teaching. This schism no longer predominates today. Scientists hail from all elements of American society in all its pluralism, from the staunchly committed religious to the atheistic liberal apostate and all the populace in between. Scientific knowledge no longer emanates only from the most radical left fringed institutions, but from houses of learning that embrace religious understanding as well. Yeshiva University and Brandeis instruct the sciences with a unique Jewish perspective, while Notre Dame, Loyola, St. John’s and Georgetown inculcate Catholic theological thought into the same. The wide scope of the evangelical Christian institutions in this country no doubt formulate a similar religious thought into their perspective of scientific instruction as well. For many religious scientists, their mastery of the sciences blends well with their religious conviction and generally serves as a bolster to fortify their beliefs. Such a philosophical outlook is probably the purview of most Americans.

Historically this is nothing new. Most notable religious scholars were well versed in the most advanced learnings of the day. The fabled Jewish philosopher Maimonides and the legendary Catholic theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, were no stranger to mathematics and the science of the time, and each found the duality as mutually enhancing. Indeed all Renaissance greats, from da Vinci to Galileo, held firm religious leanings and convictions. Our very framers, inclusive of such monumental intellectual luminaries as Franklin, Jefferson and Adams linked the core of all human inalienable rights and scientific endeavors to God’s natural law. One need only glean through the Constitution, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers to appreciate the depth of this seminal ideal in their philosophical thoughts, and its need to be a foundational support for the American experience.

Evolution is a clear and necessary target for secular liberals. Extended to its ultimate and obvious conclusion, evolution must assert that man ascended from the apes. Even the most naïve high school student is bound to pop the obvious question. To such progressives the only way to eliminate God from the discussion is to legislate his existence away by activist judges through judicial fiat in the courts. Still, Darwin’s therapy is contestable on the merits.

No one discounts Darwin’s immense contribution to biological science. His observations and conclusions based on research on the Galapagos Islands explains a great deal about the diversity of life forms and their adaptability to environmental changes in a geographically diverse ecological world. His conclusion that life evolves along lines that favor the survival of the fittest is reasonable.

Mechanistically this theory, however, raises objections on strong scientific grounds. For Darwin to be correct, random mutations favoring the most robust species must constantly evolve. Lacking knowledge of DNA and its complexity, Darwin had no molecular model to explain this progression.

Our present understanding of DNA and mutations raises serious questions as to whether such random mutational changes could have occurred within the timeframe Darwin predicts.

Many molecular biologists contend that this likelihood is highly improbable from a rigorous statistical analytical point of view.

No one is arguing that Genesis or the Bible should be taught in high school biology classes, but given the inherent inconsistencies in Darwin’s theory, intelligent design, in the high school classroom, where the topic is most effectively taught, is a reasonable discussion issue.

Placating liberal absolutionists by its prohibition is a clear affront against the first amendment mandate of free speech.

Evolution should be instructed rigorously, and exactly the manner in which Darwin described it, as a seriously disciplined theory.

To ostracize intelligent design as a discussion parameter on this topic, however, is merely political censorship.

Inclusional teaching of all sides on this matter is the true American way.

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