A Cautious Man
August 14, 2005
 
In Which A Cautious Man Finds Evidence of Intelligent Design ...
That is, an unseen hand guiding creation in the world around us. No, I am not talking about evolution and creationism - I'm talking about the Internet. Specifically, I'm talking about the Unseen Hand that "scrubbed" Senator Rick Santorum's official Senate web site. Recently, it has been observed that Senator Santorum made a statement in an NPR interview that he disagreed with the President's position, that "Intelligent Design" should be taught alongside evolution -
Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a possible 2008 presidential contender who faces a tough re-election fight next year in Pennsylvania, said intelligent design, which is backed by many religious conservatives, lacked scientific credibility and should not be taught in science classes.

Bush told reporters from Texas on Monday that "both sides" in the debate over intelligent design and evolution should be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about."

"I think I would probably tailor that a little more than what the president has suggested," Santorum, the third-ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate, told National Public Radio. "I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom."
He had a different opinion in an Op-Ed he wrote for the Washington Times in 2002. That piece is hard to find online, since the Senator removed it from his Senate web page. But, the Google cache shows that the article was there as recently as December 4, 2004. This was the Senator used to tell people about "Intelligent Design" -
The theory of intelligent design, which predates ancient Greece, contends that nature shows tangible signs of having been created by a pre-existing intelligence. This is in contrast to Charles Darwin's theory, which assumes all physical and material reality has gradually evolved through pure chance and natural selection, whereby the fittest members of each species survive and reproduce.

Critics of intelligent design, such as the newly formed Ohio Citizens for Science, claim that intelligent design is not a viable scientific theory and should not be taught in the classroom. They fear it is creationism in disguise, and hence, propagates religion in public schools. Despite a recent poll that shows overwhelming support for including the theory in the new teaching standards, these critics continue to resist its adoption.

This opposition to intelligent design is surprising since there is an increasing body of theoretical and scientific evidence that suggests an alternate theory is possible. Research has shown that the odds that even one small protein molecule has been created by chance is 1 in a billion. Thus, some larger force or intelligence, or what some call agent causation, seems like a viable cause for creating information systems such as the coding of DNA. A number of scientists contend that alternate theories regarding the origins of the human species - including that of a greater intelligence - are possible.

Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.
Now, all the Senator allows on his website is a more stealthy, "teach the controversy" opinion piece -
Darwin’s theory of evolution should not be taught as absolute fact in the science classroom. Instead, it should be taught as the leading and dominant scientific theory explaining the origin of species, but also as a theory subject to significant limitations, failed predictions, and important criticisms. We should encourage schools to teach better science and to teach more about evolution, including the gaps and controversies surrounding evolution. We should not be afraid to teach children what we know and what we have not yet discovered in science, and we should certainly not deny our children the truth about controversies surrounding science. By teaching the controversy, we remain true to science and yet sensitive to the ideas and interests of many parents and children.
Although, in both his "pro-Intelligent Design" piece, and the more slippery "teach the controversy" piece, the Senator invokes the name of Ted Kennedy as somehow supporting his position. That claim is based on a vote on what is known as the "Santorum Amendment" to the No Child Left Behind Act. It had that innocuous sounding, "teach the children well" sort of language, but has been used as a justification for trying to drive the Intelligent Design bandwagon into science classrooms. The "Santorum Amendment" was not made part of the final NCLB act, by the way.

What is the Senator up to? I don't know. But, I do know that thoughtful people need to be on the watch for stealthy attempts to sneak fake science into our science curriculums. I leave you with the words of author Chris Mooney, whose book "The Republican War on Science" will be published this September -
ID proponents have also teamed up with conservative Republican legislators to further advance their agenda. ID’s most significant supporter has been Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. In 2001, Santorum teamed up with ID supporters to slip “teach the controversy” language into the No Child Left Behind Act. Singling out evolution in particular, Santorum’s amendment to the Senate version of the bill stated that “good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science.” This may sound innocuous enough, but when you learn that the language comes in part from ID movement progenitor Phillip Johnson, who believes that “Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence,” you see where Santorum is headed.
Read the whole thing.

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