The San Francisco Chronicle has a story this morning about a school board near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that has directed biology teachers to poke holes in the theory of evolution and instruct their students in something called “intelligent design.” The people who promote this curriculum or superstition or whatever you want to call it soft-peddle the religious aspect of it. They call their idea “the science of design detection” and seek to explain “living things and other natural phenomena that exhibit function or purpose.” They say they’re seeking the scientific truth behind life and the universe without philosophical or religious assumptions. That’s all great. But they tip their hand when they state they have an end in mind: “constitutional neutrality”; meaning they need to come up with a creation story that’s got enough science in it to jam into classrooms without raising the church/state alarm. And what creation story might that be? Hindu? Navajo? Norse? Or that god got bored watching Monday night football and fashioned the world out of a Cheeto for halftime amusement?
If the promoters of intelligent design try to obscure their Bible-centric agenda, the folks in Pennsylvania sure understand what it’s about. The Chronicle quotes one of the board members as saying she doesn’t believe in evolution and disapproves of teaching that suggests “we come from chimpanzees and apes.” A kid from one of the district’s high schools says, “There’s only one creator, and it has to be God.” Asked about what she’s learned about evolution, she said, “Evolution — is that the Darwin theory? I don’t know just what he was thinking!”
The Chron accompanies its story with some findings from a Gallup poll taken earlier this month. Looking at the numbers sparked a “what’s going on in this country?” moment for me. The survey found that 83 percent of respondents think God — not the bored Cheeto god, but the very industrious Jewish-Christian one — had a hand in creating man (13 percent said they didn’t think God had a role). It makes you wonder how the Scopes Trial would come out if William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow went at it again today. “Inherit the Wind,” my ass.