Saturday, October 08, 2005

Teaching Intelligent Design

As somewhat of an Americophile, I have found the various initiatives to impose the teaching of 'intelligent design' in science classes in the US as at best embarrassing. So imagine my shock this morning to find in the Globe and Mail an article by Michael Valpy describing how this nonsense is in fact part of the prescribed curriculum for a broad spectrum of Ontario high school students! This summarizes it best.
The Catholic system's course profile says evolution is to be taught according to the "Darwinian . . . theoretical framework . . . within a Catholic context, which views reality through the eyes of faith and challenges students to grow in a fuller understanding of their faith."

One so-called teacher is quoted in the article as syaing:

"How did the eyeball develop? How do you make an eyeball from no eyeball? Three-quarters of an eyeball is no good. There are things the experts [who hold that Charles Darwin's theory of evolutionary natural selection accounts for the state of all living organisms] can't answer."
Now this is truly a howler. I have a cataract in my right eye so I would be willing to say I have three-fourths of an eyeball in some sense. This is vastly more useful than no eyeball! How anyone capable of thought could take the statement above seriously baffles me. Moreover, as anyone with the smallest knowledge of the evolution literature would know (and it is interesting the Catholic school board seems not to expect that of its science teachers) 'the eyeball' has evolved several times independently, and nobody with half a brain would find it hard to imagine the value of merely partial vision compared to none., The phrase 'irreducible complexity' is brought into play (seems odd to me it is applied ot the eyeball), and of course all the arguments around that notion are nonsense too.

Curiously, Valpy presents the facts of his article pretty flatly, without pointing out how completely stupid the views he is reporting are. I am not sure why.

I am grateful to him, though, as the next time one of my acquaintances goes into some anti-American rant, and picks on the intelligent design nonsense, I will be happy to point out that Ontario's educational system has institutionalized teaching this blather.


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