Thursday, December 01, 2005

(Un)Intelligent in Kansas

This dog had tried to find some light shining through the dense fog that settled over Kansas after the board of education voted a few weeks ago to redefine science to include the supernatural, especially the [un]Intelligent Designer. I thought the religion department at KU had provided that hint of enlightenment when its chairpersonage Paul Mirecki offered a course for the spring 2006 semester, Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies. Bravo, I said. I did time at KU in the mid 1970s--had a nightmare about it recently, but also met some fine, intelligent people there--and so I take a personal as well as sociological interest in what happens there.

But now, my friend David, who tipped me off to this course in the first place, sends notice that the course has been withdrawn because in an e-mail Professor Mirecki called the supporters of the (u)ID, "fundies"--I haven't a clue what that means but judging from the response in Kansas it must be "repugnent and vile," as KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway reportedly said. The public officials supporting the (u)ID had a field day. The story sounds like a bad farce.

It would be glib to say, "Watch what you put in e-mail, because whatever you write might come back to bite you." That's true, of course. But I'm thinking that the place being Kansas, that land over the rainbow where supenatural explanations for common events are encouraged, we might have to conclude that the (u)ID didn't like having Its work called "myth" and so moved to mute the infidel by turning his own words against him. At least now we know that the (u)ID is computer literate--and watching.

1 comment:

jonie v. said...

i am going, uncharacteristically, to take the side of the intelligent designers here and say that, given that they allege that their theory is science, and given that it does follow the general rules of scientific discourse, it is unnecessarily dismissive to group them with creationists (from which IDers explicitly distinguish themselves) in a course dealing with "mythologies."

since ID calls itself science and uses scientific arguments, why not deal with it in a science class, put it to the test of rigorous scientific reasoning, and be quickly done with it?

the best thing, of course, would be not to deal with it at all, as we do with all bad science. but since the tempora and the mores seem to require we give it some attention, this is what i think we should do.