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  Topic: George Will on ID< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 17 2005,13:57   

The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking reelection were defeated. This expressed the community's wholesome exasperation with the board's campaign to insinuate religion, in the guise of "intelligent design" theory, into high school biology classes, beginning with a required proclamation that evolution "is not a fact."

But it is. And President Bush's straddle on that subject — "both sides" should be taught — although intended to be anodyne, probably was inflammatory, emboldening social conservatives. Dover's insurrection occurred as Kansas's Board of Education, which is controlled by the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people, voted 6 to 4 to redefine science. The board, opening the way for teaching the supernatural, deleted from the definition of science these words: "a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena."

"It does me no injury," said Thomas Jefferson, "for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public education to infuse theism into scientific education. The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.

The Ghost of Paley

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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2005,06:32   

Very interesting. Will and Derbyshire are not shy about their support for evolution, are they? This is good, actually; I like people who don't mince words, even if I don't agree with them. The funny thing is, I recall Will once stating that he didn't buy the evolution of "the mind of Newton from primordial slime", so either Will is confused, I am, or his beef is with abiogenesis rather than common descent.

Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

Julie Stahlhut

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Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2005,06:51   

I would read it at face value, and understand that George Will's "beef" is with two issues, neither of which is abiogenesis nor common descent.  One is the introduction of a religious doctrine into public-school science classes, and the other is with the divisive effect the ensuing battles will have on his fellow political conservatives.


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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2005,09:31   

Charles Krauthammer has a similar op/ed in today's Washington Post.  Like Will, he castigates his fellow conservatives, but he's far meaner.

Julie Stahlhut

Posts: 46
Joined: July 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2005,15:19   

Krauthammer has written on this and similar subjects before.  There are definitely people out there who are conservatives on fiscal, military, or foreign policy issues but will have absolutely no truck with the religious right.  

I'm politically liberal/progressive myself (I land far into the "left-libertarian" corner of the spectrum at Political Compass). I was raised a liberal Catholic, and sporadically attend a Unitarian Universalist church, arguably the most theologically liberal church denomination one will find in the U.S.  But, I've certainly met Republican-voting UUs. They tend to be a minority, but in some larger UU fellowships, political conservatives are a large enough minority to have their own support groups.

I've also met a few vociferously atheist conservatives, who generally come from the libertarian corner of the right.  And, religious issues aside, conservatives tend to be strongly pro-business, and crappy science education is hardly conducive to a first-class workforce.  Conversely, there's also a segment of the left that promulgates anti-science views (though usually for secular reasons), a group that was well and duly skewered by Alan Sokal in Social Text a few years back.  Sokal, incidentally, is himself a self-described leftist.

And, large segments of both the liberal and the conservative American populations take the Constitution quite seriously, and will express public opposition to attempts to privilege religious doctrines in U.S. public school systems.

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