Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Sunday, September 04, 2005

ID in Australian Schools?

Well, it looks like Intelligent Design is finding its way into at least religious schools. And worse, it is getting a conditional approval from (who else?) Cardinal George Pell, who has previously attacked "Darwinism" in print a few years back. Pell at least has the good sense to admit that ID was not established science, although the way he put it was that he was "agnostic" about ID as a school subject. But nevertheless it's finding its way into Catholic school texts.

But Paul Davies, who has used the word "God" in titles and articles to indicate the nature of the universe (thereby giving all kinds of aid and comfort to the new age nitwits) didn't avail himself of that temptation this time. "God has never been a part of science" he said. That's correct. And ID is, despite occasional denials, all about God.

I quite like the Australian National Science Teachers' Association formulation, though:
While Intelligent Design has no status as a scientific theory, teachers of science may wish to contrast it to other belief systems with scientific theories like evolution, as a means of assisting students to understand better the nature of science.
Although... there are only so many ways you can say "this is also not science" before you have to wonder if you hadn't better get going actually teaching it.

We ought not to panic. ID is a very marginal movement here in Australia, pushed by the religious for political reasons. It's very worrying that idiots like Brendan Nelson, who continues to deflect attention on his handling of Australian tertiary education by appearing on TV to denigrate State-based primary and secondary education, over which he has no control at all, give their unqualified approval of ID (I finally got to see what he said at the National Press Club a few weeks back. There was no hedging.). But teachers, curriculum developers, and those who really do control the content of science teaching, aren't calling for it.

If it is to become a problem, expect to see political-religious interference in the makeup of those curriculum advisory boards at the State level. Fortunately the less-religiously inclined Labor Party is in power in those states (although I can think of a lot of other reasons why that isn't such an unmitigated good, either) and is unlikely to be corrupted in that particular manner. But if the Liberals keep going the way they are going, as a Liberal MP said it was this week, when they finally get in power, it might happen. One can only hope that the Australian public sees this as a malign thing, and that eventually the Liberals learn this is not an electable way to go.