Ball State University president Jo Ann Gora announced that the university would not be teaching creationism and intelligent design in science courses after complaints that a science professor, Guillermo Gonzales, was rumored to have taught intelligent design.
Jo Ann Gora said, “Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.” While I know this makes a lot of people furious, I agree with Jo Ann Gora.
I think we often get caught up in the difference between “facts” and “beliefs.” The Oxford dictionary defines “fact” as: “A thing that is indisputably the case.” It defines “belief” as: “An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”
The job of science-based studies in formal education is to teach facts. There is indisputable evidence of evolution. There is overwhelming physical evidence that proves humans evolved from apes. There simply is not the same evidence to support creationism, thus making intelligent design not a fact. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t or cannot believe in intelligent design or creationism or any other religious explanation for something.
I don’t think having beliefs, in spite of facts, makes you stupid, I think it makes you spiritual and spirituality is great. What I think is “stupid” is a blanket denial of facts based on the presumption that facts and beliefs are mutually exclusive, when they are not. You can acknowledge that evolution is a fact and still choose to believe that you were created by a higher power. Religion is about beliefs. Science is about facts. I personally believe our brains are built for both! All it means, to me, is that religion and science typically aren’t tools to be used in the same debates or in the same contexts, like a scientific course.
I remember in journalism class we were told that being objective isn’t necessarily always the best approach to informing someone. A better practice is to be fair and balanced, meaning, not every argument has equal weight. Just because there are many sides or perspectives to one thing, doesn’t mean that every side has equal validity. You would not give the same clout to someone who thought the Earth was flat as you would to someone who thought it was round in 2013 because there is so much overwhelming evidence to support that the Earth is a sphere. It would be misleading to say that just because there are two theories about one thing that there is an equal chance that each theory is true.
However, just because there is overwhelming concrete evidence of evolution, that doesn’t mean you can’t have beliefs too, I mean, that’s what faith is. So I think you can believe that a divinity/divinities, which ever is of your faith, created humans and in the United States you have every right to believe that but it cannot be regarded as a scientific fact because there is not indisputable evidence to support many (but not all) of the events described in religious texts.
Which isn’t to say there is no place for beliefs in universities, which is why theology, humanities, sociology and literature courses exist. Beliefs are fascinating to discuss and study, they’re just not scientifically grounded. While religion and science can find comfortable homes in an individual’s heart and mind, religion is not a facts-based system, it’s a faith-based system, so it cannot be used in a facts-based classroom which is what science is.
What do you guys think? Does intelligent design or creationism have a place in science?