On the application of labels

As you’ve all probably heard by now, the Dover school board underwent a transformation after Tuesday’s election. Rather than embracing evolution or being convinced that intelligent design is not in fact a scientific theory, it seems more likely that the Dover residents were tired of the scrutiny and perhaps tired of being labeled as scientifically backwards.

Indeed, most people probably don’t know enough about either evolution or intelligent design to really distinguish between them. To borrow someone else’s words:

Most of my friends in high school were “Creationists,” but in reality, they didn’t know much about evolution or creationism. It was more a cultural badge than a well thought out view about how the world worked. Similarly, most people who believe in evolution do so because it shows that they are enlightened people who aren’t superstitious, they don’t know the details of the process of evolution….

Along the same lines, a view presented by Carol Wolman is that those who don’t believe in evolution are using that as a label to present themselves as the “elect.” I think that’s certainly likely for some people. I think, though, that there are also a number of people who feel a real need to be saved, and won’t risk anything interfering with their salvation. Wolman points out, though, that religion and science needn’t be incompatible:

In fact, the dichotomy between a Creator and Darwinism is totally spurious. Who set up the law of natural selection? In fact, who set up the law of gravity, who set up e=mc2, who set up the periodic table? Did Darwin, Newton, Einstein, Mendeleev invent these laws? No, they discovered the intelligent design of the universe.

The view strikes me as being reasonable, and accommodating to a number of people who still belive divinity should play a role in how the universe works. Sadly, I don’t think it’s a view that will be espoused by many people anytime soon.

This post refers to:

Razib. “ID vs. Creationism, what’s in a name.” Nov. 9, 2005.

Wolman, Carol. “Intelligent Design vs Evolution: A False Dichotomy.” Nov. 11, 2005.

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