letter to the post

I just read an article on the Washington Post website which was so downright nonsensical, that I felt the need to write the following letter to the author and the editor:

Dear Mr Mathews

Thank you for your article on Intelligent Design. I felt moved to write to you because the premise of the article is flawed.

Firstly, I completely agree that it is important for students to learn to question what they are being taught. In a math class, learning proofs for equations helps with this. In history class, I agree that questioning “facts” is a very important part of an education. I also agree that biological principles should be questioned. In fact many areas of biology question and refine the principles of evolution and inheritance, and rightly so. The flaw in your article, however, occurs when you suggest that ID could be used as an adjunct or alternative to science. It is crucially important to remember that the theory of Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory – it is merely conjecture based on the philosophical idea that “biological systems are very complex, therefore something/someone must have designed them”. There is no way to prove or disprove this using scientific principles, as there is with the theory of evolution. No papers have ever been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals which support the ID theory. No science has ever been advanced by the ID theory; I’m sure you realize that a huge portion of biological research and advance could not have happened without scientific understanding of the theory of evolution. You used the examples of the perpetual motion machine in physics class, and the big bang theory in earth science. I agree that these should be taught in science classes, because they are based on scientific theory. Intelligent Design is not. If it is introduced to the science classroom it can only validly be used to show what a non-scientific theory looks like. For this to be treated as a scientific theory would undermine our children’s educations and turn American science into a laughing-stock.

By the way, the directors and supporters of the Discovery Institute do everything in their power to make their theories into political footballs, as is evidenced by proponents’ plans to have stickers on biology textbooks and take the teaching of evolution out of school curricula.

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