Intelligent Design

Yesterday, President Bush expressed support for the notion that "Intelligent Design" should be taught alongside "evolution" in American science classes as an alternative 'scientific' hypothesis to explain the complexity of life on Earth.

I agree that Intelligent Design should be taught as an alternative theory, but not in science classes.

Rather, I think that American students should all be taught the History of Philosophy, so that they can learn how ideas themselves have evolved in the course of human history.

In such a class, students would learn that for many centuries, the greatest controversies in Christian Civilization, within the Church and among those few priveledged people who had the benefit of an education, were things like:

· whether or not newborns who died before being baptized went directly to hell
· whether or not purgatory existed , and if so, whether it was right for priests to grow wealthy by praying for the souls of the dead to move from purgatory to heaven more quickly
· whether or not it was heretical to claim that the Earth was round
· whether or not Popes should be allowed to marry and pass on the Papacy to their sons
· whether or not there was such a thing as witches, and if so, whether it was preferable to burn them at the stake or drown them
· whether or not European kings had a divine right to rule absolutely, or if their powers should be subject to limitations

In such a class, students would learn how for centuries at a time Christian Philosophy was used as a primary rationale for episodes in human history like the Inquisition, the Crusades, colonialism, endless persecution and disenfranchisement of Jews, the treatment of women as property, annihilation of the American Indians, and as late as the 1860's in the American South, slavery.

So yes, let's consider alternative viewpoints, but not in science class.  'Intelligent Design' does deserve attention, within a context of Christian Philosophy.  But lets make sure that American students have a clear grasp of all of the different positions that Christian Philosophy has taken in the last several thousands of years, on a whole range of matters, as well as the kinds of social policies it has been used to rationalize.

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