By Dr. Nayyer Ali

Intelligent Design and Other Religious Beliefs


December 30, 2005

Last week sanity in American education was hopefully restored as a Federal court banned the school board of Dover County, Pennsylvania from teaching “intelligent design” in its high school biology classes. US District Judge John Jones condemned the “breathtaking inanity” of the school board that tried to sneak this bit of Christianity into the public schools.
The “intelligent design” movement is just the latest manifestation of fundamentalist Christianity’s attempt to teach the Bible in science classes. Charles Darwin, the scientist who developed the theory of evolution by natural selection, himself realized that this was a major and severe blow to those who believed in the literal truth of the Biblical account of creation in seven days found in the Book of Genesis. Almost immediately there arose a backlash among literalist Christians who could not accept Darwin’s theory because it would mean the Bible was not literally true.
While these groups were present in Europe, they really came into their own in what became known as “fundamentalist” Christianity in the US. Christian fundamentalism remains quite strong in the US even in the present time.
Fundamentalists first tangled with Darwin in the 1920s during the famous Scope Case, where a Tennessee teacher was tried for violating the state ban on teaching evolution. That case held up fundamentalists to national ridicule.
After the shock of the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957, the US embarked on a national program of upgrading the quality of science education. A result was the widespread teaching of evolution, even in conservative states with fundamentalist populations. This led to a backlash, which culminated in court cases in the early 1980s in which local school boards were trying to teach “Creationism” alongside with evolution. This was pitched as providing equal time to multiple explanations of the origins of life on Earth. The courts saw through the charade, and banned “creationism” as just dressed-up religion.
By the late 1990’s, fundamentalist Christianity was ready for another try. This time they wanted to apply more direct scientific veneer to their schemes. The religious package would now be wrapped inside something called “intelligent design”. This concept, propounded by Michael Behe, who is a tenured university professor, proclaimed that certain elements of biology, particularly at the level of proteins within the cells, were so complex that they could not conceivably have evolved. Behe also argued that some processes were so complex and interdependent on a whole slew of proteins that there was no way they could all have evolved together simultaneously. Given that assumption, the logical conclusion is that an “intelligent designer” had to make them. Neither Behe nor the school board in Dover County would say out loud who this designer is, but it is clearly God, not little green men from Mars (and if it was men from Mars, then we still have the problem of how they came to be!).
The problem with intelligent design is that it is not science. A scientific theory, such as evolution by natural selection, must explain the observed facts using the laws of nature as they are known. In addition, a real scientific theory must be testable and falsifiable. If for example, the DNA of a lion was more similar to an elephant than a tiger, that would falsify the theory of evolution, as evolution clearly predicts that tigers and lions, based on their biological similarity, must have evolved from a common ancestor. Intelligent design makes no testable predictions nor does it explain the observed facts.
Evolution is the only theory that explains why all life shares a common biochemistry, and why the closer two species are in the fossil record and in their biological characteristics, the closer they are in their DNA. Evolution also explains why life exists in groups of species with shared characteristics. Just think of the whales or the bats or the beetles (there are literally thousands of beetle species in existence). And if we look in the fossil record for example, we find over 30 different species of elephants and mammoths that existed in the last few million years. Evolution also explains why some species can interbreed and produce young (horses and donkeys to make mules).
Science should be taught in science class and religion in religion class. Islam does not have a story that has the literal elements of Genesis. Which makes it doubly disturbing to see so much creationist literature in mosque bookstores around the country. It is in fact an odd example of Christian fundamentalist thinking entering Muslim thought.
Comments can reach me at Nali@socal.rr.com.

 


 



PREVIOUSLY

Deflating Japan

Bush’s Axis of Evil

Speaking to Non-Muslims

If Arafat Were Jinnah

The Shape of Things to Come

South Asia Expert Calls for Negotiations on Kashmir

Kashmir After the Cold War

Kashmir Quagmire: How It Started

Kashmir: Where We’ve Been

Make Way for the Euro

Will there Be a Muslim Palestine?

Careful, Careful

Our Growing Community

Pakistan’s Golden Opportunity

Musharraf’s Reform Plans

Pakistan’s Afghan Dilemma

Humanity on the Move

Strategies of America, Pakistan and Benazir

Winners and Losers

America’s Strategy Defang the Fundamentalists

The Noose Tightens

Pakistan in America

Musharraf’s Moment

A Sad Day for America, A Sad Day for Islam

Repeal the Blasphemy Law

Bush’s Stem Cell Compromise

The Depressing Stock Market

An Evening on Human Development

“Benazir” Takes Over in Indonesia

Race Riots in Britain

Global Warming or Just Hot Air?

Milosevic on Trial

Russia’s Collapse

Economic Recovery in Pakistan?

President Khatami’s Re-election

Lifting Sanctions on Pakistan

Israel’s Moral Burden

A Break in the Logjam?

The Second American Century

Pakistan’s Constitution

Dr. Lodhi in Los Angeles

Literacy: The Road Forward

Why Yusuf Can't Read

Literacy: The Glass is Half Full

Blowing Up Buddha

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Pakistan

Did You See the Moon?

Cornrows, Ali Khan, and Culture

Will the Children Go To Harvard?

Muslim Political Progress

Information Technology Gets A Boost

Sand and Oil

On Lieberman

Pakistan Builds A Tank

Kashmir in the Nuclear Age

Full Speed Ahead on Privatization

A Muslim France?

Too Much Food

Watching the Election Why Are We Hollywood’s Villains?

A Tyrant Falls

Taliban Victorious

The Walking Whale of Pakistan
The Joy of Air Travel?

The Amazing American Economy
Arafat and Jerusalem

Names For The Children

Population: Too Many or Too Few?

It Does Matter

Aziz Goes For Growth

The Military Government's First Budget

L'Affaire Salam

End Sanctions on Iraq

Third World Democracy

Light Weapons Trade on the Rise

Iran Reforms

Back to the Future

The Saudis and OPEC Mature

How Can We Help Pakistan Develop?

Report Card on Musharraf

IMF Vs Pakistan

A Candid Discussion on Foreign Policy Issues

A Sad Tale of Missed Opportunities

Cold War In Kashmir

Whither Afghanistan?

National Security and Literacy

Pakistan Votes

The People Win

What is an Islamist?

Selling the Crown Jewels

Still Not Government

One Year After the Taliban

Benazir's Folly

Iraq and Oil

Saddam and Iraq - I

Saddam and Iraq - 2

Muslim Democracy

Zakat and Capitalism

Zakat and Capitalism - 2

The Economy Picks Up

The American Military: Power without Limit?

Good Foreign Policy is Good Anti-Terrorism Policy

The Arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad

Bush Takes a Gamble

Bush Attacks

Besieging Baghdad

Darkness in Saddam's Bunker

Piccadilly It Aint Qissa Khani Is Still Qissa Kahani

Ed Asner and Afghanistan's Progress

Bush Delivers a Roadmap

Liberation or Imperialism

The Roadmap

Economic Rebound

Musharraf in Los Angeles

Economic Growth will lead to Democracy

Trapped by Myths and Fantasies

The Surge in Karachi Stocks

Bush's Busted Budget

America's Broken Healthcare

Time to Buy Stocks?

Islam, the State, and Human Rights

30 Years after the Oil Shock

The Future of Oil Wealth

Pakistan, India and Human Development

Pakistan's Eid Present

Iraq, Democracy and Islam

The End of Saddam Hussein

Three Wins for Pakistan

The Islamabad Declaration

Kerry's Big Wins

Repeal Hudood and Blasphemy

Bush's Growing Vulnerability

What Has Aziz Done?

Bits and Pieces

The Growth of India

Chaos in Iraq

Bush Caves in to Sharon

Abuse at Abu Ghraib

Too Harsh, Musharraf

The BJP Loses

What Do the Jihadis Want?

The Pak Economy: Bigger than We Think

Is America Richer than Europe?

Prime Minister Aziz

Unbundling WAPDA

Musharraf's Uniform

Chess Game in Kashmir

Three States, Three Debates

What's Wrong with the Democrats?

Can Elections Bring Peace to Iraq?

Elections in Iraq

Can Generals Yield to Democrats?

IMF Give Pakistan an “A”

Improve Higher Education in Pakistan

A Framework for Reconciliation

Iraqís Elections By

Privatizing Power

Bullish in Karachi

Palestinians Should Abandon Suicide Bombings

The F-16’s

Bush’s Social Security Plan

Growth and Investment

Patronage Versus Policy

Aziz, the PML, and 2007

Are We Running out of Oil?

Purchasing Power

Economic Progress

Social Progress

PTCL and the Privatization Roller-coaster

Bombing in Britain

The Ummah is Not a Tribe

Is the US Oppressing the Muslims?

Is Iraq Dissolving?

Sharon Retreats

Pakistan and Israel

The Earthquake

The Other Earthquakes

The Battle for the Supreme Court

Pakistan’s Physician Exports

Beginning of the End in Palestine

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
© 2004 pakistanlink.com . All Rights Reserved.