A place for intelligent design

Oscar Chicas

A CBS News poll conducted this October found that 51 percent of adults nationwide believe that God created humans in their present form, 30 percent believe humans evolved with the guidance of God, 15 percent believe humans evolved without God’s guidance, and 4 percent are unsure.

Writing this column in a college newspaper, I ask what I assume to be a highly educated audience: Do those numbers shock any of you? How about this number: 55 percent of adults take the Bible to be literally true, from Genesis to Revelations.

It’s a well-known fact that America is close to, if not the most religious of the industrialized nations. As advanced as we are, how have we maintained such a strong attachment to an archaic tradition as creationism? It’s disturbing to note that more than half our country has failed to learn or been denied the opportunity to learn more about the Bible and about the faith they wished they had. Even more disturbing is the method by which we have attempted to modernize creationism: “intelligent design.”

By intelligent design, what is being proposed is that this world, and especially humans, are so beautiful and complicated that natural forces could not have possibly sculpted such a beautiful world and such a complicated species as humanity. The only thing, says intelligent design, that could be behind all of this is some sort of creative force. Note the word: creative.

Proponents of intelligent design insist that we need to teach this philosophy to children in our classrooms, trumpeting it as simply “another way of thinking,” and that our children should be exposed to diverse and even opposing ways of thinking, in order to give them an open mind.

Here’s the thing about our classrooms: as part of this government, they can’t be used to establish religion. Intelligent design is a religious maxim, not a scientific theory.

If it were a theory, we could teach it, but intelligent design isn’t science because you can’t perform an experiment to empirically prove it wrong or right.

Religious maxims can be perfectly valid and valuable ways of thinking, and if you know me personally, you know that I am of the inclination to accept some religious maxims. Regardless of my personal opinion of their importance, they don’t belong in the classroom, and let me tell you why:

Advocates of intelligent design might call themselves people of faith, but amen I tell you, the faith they speak of is false. If you think we need to tell children that God makes them, if you think we need to plant the seeds of faith in our children, then you need to open your hearts and minds to a dignified image of God.

Those of us whose faith is true understand that if God is real, then everyone at some point will come to know his truth, because God has already planted that seed in each of us, and in order to cultivate that seed, you don’t water it with words in a classroom, you water it by living out God’s message in your daily life.

Reducing God to an answer on a test is a shameful cheapening of divine truth. Those of us who study God know that the more we study Him and His truth, the more questions we find, not answers. Questions lead the way to God; answers only limit us and our experience of the divine.

All of this is under the assumption that God indeed makes us, and if you’re afraid to discuss that question, advocate or antagonist, then your faith or your science is lacking of something.

Science does require faith – the faith to step forward and challenge what is believed to be true. Faith does require science – the hit-or-miss scientific method to continually experiment with what may be wrong and what may be right. These are only small and generalized examples of why science and faith need each other – but we have to be careful to maintain the distinction between the two, because only one belongs in the classroom: science.

You can’t teach faith. You have to live it.