Thursday, August 04, 2005

Intelligent Design Is Not Science

I've been wondering whether or not I wanted to weigh in on Bush's statements that Intelligent Design should be taught in the science curriculum, but it seems necessary considering how much play his words have received in the press. There needs to be a rational stance taken by someone (though I know better than to assume I am being rational).

BeliefNet has posted an article by William Dembski supporting Bush's suggestion that Intelligent Design should be taught alongside Evolution in the science curriculum. Dembski is a well-known anti-evolutionist, so it comes as no surprise that he would support Bush's stance. His arguments are lame, at best, and most often silly. He lacks any understanding of the advances the Enlightenment brought to scientific endeavors. Still, he is well-known and gaining followers as some more educated "creationists" begin to see the futility of their position.

However, no matter how they try to dress it up and take it dancing, Intelligent Design is not science. Why, you ask? Because any and all scientific theories are only useful insofar as they are testable. There is no way to test Intelligent Design. Furthermore, science deals with the realm of things, with physical objects, whether they are rocks, trees, or human beings. An "intelligent designer" can only be inferred, at best, as it is not of the realm of things.

Please refer to Ken Wilber's four-quadrant map of the Kosmos (above). The right-hand side of the grid covers exterior realities, the realm of ITS. The left-hand side covers the interior realities, the realm of I and WE. The realm of ITS is the proper domain of science. This is not where you will find God, Spirit, or any other scientifically verifiable version of an intelligent designer.

Notice I said verifiable. God or Spirit is, of course, present throughout Its creation. Yes, It's creation -- as in, there is an intelligent designer. How one defines the Creator will depend upon the religion or spiritual tradition to which one belongs. Therefore, God or Spirit can only be experienced in the realm of I or WE, not in the realm of ITS.

If they (Bush and his followers) want to teach Intelligent Design in the schools, be my guest -- but it should be taught in a humanities class, not in a science class. And while they are teaching creation stories, they should include stories from all the world's major religious traditions and from indigenous cultures as well. If they refuse to teach other versions of how the world came to be, the true intent of their agenda will be apparent.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Conscious Evolution

I struggle daily with conflicting beliefs in my psyche regarding the fate of humanity. I'm sure there are much better things to do with my brain cells, but then I have never been terribly pragmatic.

On the one hand, I am convinced humanity is well on the way to its total and self-imposed annihilation. On the other hand, I am hopeful that we will awaken to our fate and act to change the course we have set for ourselves. Most days, I believe both are true.

The thing that has changed over the years is which belief I choose to put my energy behind. For much of my adult life, I was proudly nihilistic and resigned to our self-extermination. In fact, I thought it would be a good thing for the planet to be rid of Homo sapiens. But over the years, something has shifted. I am still not a big fan of human beings, in general, but I find that individual human beings show amazing depth of heart and a genuine desire to make the world a better place.

Somehow, we must find a way to get people to act on those higher impulses.

Barbara Marx Hubbard, one of the co-founding board members of the World Future Society, has a vision for how that might happen that she has termed conscious evolution.

What we are seeking is a worldview that will call forth our creative action and direct our immense powers toward life-oriented and evolutionary purposes. That guiding worldview is, I believe, conscious evolution. It holds that through unprecedented scientific, social, and spiritual capacities we can evolve consciously and cocreatively with nature and the deeper patterns of creation (traditionally called God), thus enabling us to manifest a future commensurate with our unlimited species and planetary potential.

Conscious evolution as a worldview began to emerge in the latter half of the 20th century because of scientific, social, and technological abilities that have given us the power to affect the evolution of life on Earth. Conscious evolution is a metadiscipline; the purpose of this metadiscipline is to learn how to be responsible for the ethical guidance of our evolution. It is a quest to understand the process of developmental change, to identify inherent values for the purpose of learning how to cooperate with these processes toward chosen and positive futures, both near and long range.

This worldview is the fruit of all human history and the opening of the next stage of human development. It has come into focus midway in the life cycle of our planet with the maturation of the
noosphere. Conscious evolution is awakening in imaginal cells as a vision of a new life to come and a desire to fulfill unique creativity in the cocreation of that new life.

--Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution, 57-58 (New World Library, 1998)

If she is even halfway right, sign me up. Hubbard is a little more enthusiastic than I am comfortable with at this point, but I admire her willingness to dream big. That's what we seem to be lacking -- the big dream.

We elect politicians who promise to support a "culture of life" while they send our young people to die in a war that can never be won. We elect politicians who are owned by corporate interests. We have chosen a collection of liars and thieves to lead us, and we wonder why feel so betrayed.

We must rethink how we choose our leaders in every way. We need leaders who have a vision of the future that is hopeful and not based on fear of people who are different. We need big ideas and even bigger dreams. We need leaders who are soulful without being zealots.

We need leaders who want to make the world a cleaner, safer place where no one is starving to death or lacking clean water to drink. We need leaders who seek equal rights for all citizens without exception. We need leaders who will not exploit the weaknesses of their community, but rather who seek to support the strengths and "better angels" of all their constituents.

The change begins with us. How can we change ourselves today to become better people tomorrow? How do we become the leaders we need? This is how we become consciously involved in our evolution.