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Politics of Intelligent Design

08.31.2005 10:07 | DISPATCHES

The American Prospect has a nice article on the roots of the Intelligent Design movement, including its connections to a number of evangelical Christian groups, and its to some prominent Republicans. A nice sample:

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.

The Discovery Institute heralded the Santorum amendment, claiming that “the Darwinian monopoly on public science education … is ending.” Santorum himself defended ID in an op-ed article in the conservative Washington Times, calling it a “legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.” The Santorum amendment ultimately did not make its way into the actual No Child Left Behind Act, but language in a nonbinding conference report stressed that “where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist.” Discovery Institute representatives have used this language to claim that the U.S. Congress has endorsed the teaching of ID.

We all know that liberal secularists will protest nonsense like this. But where are the grown-up Republicans who care about education? It's not an "attack on faith" to say that religion shouldn't be in science classes and vice-versa.

Now, if ID is--as Wired magainze put it--the 2.0 version of Creationism, then we shouldn't neglect what the 1.0 folks are up to. And the Los Angeles Times ran a story this past weekend on Creationists' newest target: dinosaurs.

That's right. In an article that seems to belong in the Onion but is in fact true, the Times reports on Creationists' efforts to buy up and/or build dinosuar-related tourist attractions and re-frame the big beasts as evidence of divine creation rather than evolution.

CABAZON, Calif. — Dinny the roadside dinosaur has found religion.

The 45-foot-high concrete apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists.

Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution."

The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.

"They're used to teach people that there's no God, and they're used to brainwash people," he said. "Evolutionists get very upset when we use dinosaurs. That's their star."

Early evidence suggests the plan is having only modest success:

Douglas Bant and his wife ushered their kids from gift shop to minivan for the trip back to Scottsdale, Ariz. The couple teach their children about Jesus, but Bant was miffed about a dinosaur trying to do the same.

"Who thinks, 'I'm going to open a gift shop and convince people this is church'?" he said. "Why would you turn a toy for kids into some sort of religious crusade?"

Corina Shreve had pulled off the highway with her son and daughter.

The family, from Westminster in Orange County, drops in on Dinny maybe twice a year. Shreve said a staffer recently piled pamphlets about creation onto her 6-year-old son Aeron's hands and told him to pass them to friends.

When Aeron asked his mom during this year's visit for a T-shirt, Shreve balked at buying the only one in his size. It read "By Design and Not By Chance."

Really, to that I have nothing to add at all.


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